The Metaverse Presents A Significant Metaverse Network and Connectivity Challenge
In the age of converged and heterogeneous metaverse networks, it makes no difference where the client is connected or what transport is used to transfer data from point A to point B.
The metaverse is destined to become a digital reincarnation of the consumer society. And, in the end, it will overcome the limitations of a two-dimensional virtual world. Even with the most advanced augmented reality technologies and visual effects, our screens remain flat. And people only communicate with their eyes. The metaverse, on the other hand, will add hands to a person, possibly a body, as well as movements that can reflect thoughts. This means that “behavior” will become more natural in this environment.
On the other hand, technological limitations make the current metaverse a poor representation of reality. However, in this era of COVID-19-driven lockdowns, fears, and anxieties, people have become more reliant and receptive to remote communications, including early exploration of the metaverse. It means excellent opportunities to create new revenue streams for businesses that move quickly and get ahead of the adoption curve.
A Battle for the Soul of the Metaverse
One of the major unknowns is whether there will be a single global metaverse universe or several. There are currently several versions of the metaverse, all of which are fairly basic. As a result, several formats will vie for supremacy in this new technological revolution. In the 1980s, VHS triumphed over Betamax. Then came CDs and DVDs, as well as MPEG/mp3. The format battle was simply a battle between competing companies each time. We see the same thing with smartphones, such as iOS and Android. The metaverse will be no exception.
Facebook’s move to the Meta rebrands and the metaverse foreshadows the size of this space. However, Facebook will not be able to dominate it. Competitors will emerge soon. Given that we are in the early stages of metaverse development, there is an opportunity for telephone companies/telecommunications services (telcos) to recoup some of their capital investment in 5G and get deeper into the metaverse network side and delivery of metaverse services. Some are already taking steps in this direction.
Loop in Reverse
But, strictly speaking, 5G and the metaverse are unrelated. In the age of converged and heterogeneous metaverse networks, it makes no difference where the client is connected or what transport is used to transfer data from point A to point B. 5G is just one of the technologies that are evolving slowly around the world. It is also only one component of a larger connectivity solution. Other components include fixed channel cost reduction, mesh metaverse network creation, and so on. Having said that, we will almost certainly see the introduction of 6G, and possibly even 10G, because digital advancements such as the metaverse tend to accelerate change in technology formats.
However, the speed with which new technologies will emerge in telcos, for example, is partly due to the increasing demand for traffic consumption and the growth of data-intensive content, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, which is the stuff of the metaverse.
However, there is a reversal loop. When infrastructure is improved, new products and methods of using technology can be developed. This goes beyond virtual content; for example, self-driving cars and the concept of developing roads to facilitate them were not feasible when we were using 3G metaverse networks.
A Chasm in Reality
There is currently a gap between the hype of the metaverse and its reality. When we look at today’s technologies and the development of new infrastructure that will drive and create a feature-rich metaverse that accurately simulates real life, the situation does not look promising. Other factors include consumers’ unwillingness to pay more for the price of access to data-intensive traffic required for the metaverse.
Furthermore, because governments do not invest in private companies, operations such as private telcos are hampered because capital expenditure on new infrastructure does not provide a quick return on investment. There is very little immediate income growth, and it can take decades for telcos, for example, to see any significant returns.
However, the metaverse is the next great connectivity and metaverse network infrastructure challenges in the internet’s evolution. Things will need to move an order of magnitude faster in a world where graphics must be rendered on-screen in direct response to where someone is focusing via their headset, requiring single or low double-digit millisecond latency. This will necessitate significant increases in a capacity as well as fundamental changes in how metaverse networks are designed and deployed, necessitating extensive industry collaboration involving technology companies, mobile metaverse network operators, policymakers, and everyone in between.
Looking at telcos in general, we can see that we’re still a long way from this, which is why Meta (Facebook) has invested in everything from subsea cables and satellites to autonomous internet-beaming drones. The metaverse may appear to us as applications, but it is actually infrastructure.
We’ve seen Meta collaborate with telecommunications behemoth Telefónica to create the Metaverse Innovation Hub in Madrid. Through various trials and testing initiatives, the goal is to accelerate metaverse network and device readiness. In addition, local startups and developers will be able to use a metaverse end-to-end testbed on Meta and Telefónica’s metaverse network infrastructure and equipment in a 5G laboratory.
However, many companies with the potential to influence metaverse development are simply not there yet. Telefónica is a large company with deep pockets that needs to invest in the future. Others are also taking action. As they seek to recoup 5G investments, China Mobile, Verizon, and SK Telecom have moved quickly to build platforms based on blending the digital and physical worlds. However, it is impossible to recoup 5G investments solely through traffic fees. Consumers are no longer willing to pay for traffic. Furthermore, regulators generally oppose price increases for basic services, and internet access is now a basic need.
To recoup their investment in 5G, telco operators must look for new business models and revenue streams. Alliances with e-commerce companies may be beneficial. After all, Facebook, Amazon, and eBay are no longer charging their customers to use their marketplaces. This may change as virtual reality takes over as the new reality.
The New Economic Reality
The newly constructed metaverse infrastructure should generate revenue from new business streams. That is, ROI should result from creating a new consumption pattern rather than shifting income from the old infrastructure to the new one. A simple example would be the construction of a road for self-driving cars, with users paying to use the road.
A metaverse, for example, could have a paid registration where users sign up for a membership. In this case, revenue is generated for the infrastructure investor rather than the metaverse content owner. The fee for guaranteed data speeds, for example, in a business conference, should go to the owner of the infrastructure, not the operator of the communication platform. There are numerous other examples.
The question for telcos is whether they will try to reclaim control of both consumers and services that use the metaverse network. Of course, this is dependent on how early they enter the market and what foundational work they invest in to help develop the metaverse.