The advent of the internet is a boon to human beings because it’s through the internet that we are able to get every piece of information in a matter of seconds. Imagine what would happen if you could see the things in 3D that you, until now, could only find on a 2D monitor; wouldn’t that feel like a miracle? Well, it’s happening right now, and the name of this miracle technology that takes us so deeply into virtual reality is the Metaverse. This technology has everything that today’s outside world has and much more, and is thus the burning topic at present.
The Metaverse is a most interesting technology and is often described as the latest version of the Internet. The creation of the Metaverse environment requires stringent advances in terms of communications and computing. To provide an immersive user experience and real-time interactions, and to support millions of simultaneous users and content creators, minimum guarantees are demanded in terms of latency, data rates and computational power; the current computing and communications infrastructures are not yet ready for a full-fledged Metaverse deployment.
Empowering the Journey
Telecom operators stand to benefit immensely by taking part in the Metaverse. They can improve customer experience, monetize investments through adjacent services and increase operational efficiency through this virtual environment. But more uniquely for telecom operators, the Metaverse presents a distinct opportunity to play a more assertive role in the Metaverse value chain. Telecom companies can leverage emerging technologies such as 5G, edge clouds, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to become cocreators of the Metaverse alongside technology giants. Indeed, we are already starting to see telcos around the globe recognize this potential.
However, rather than just being participants, telcos must find their place in the Metaverse ecosystem and take advantage of the opportunity to become successful cocreators of the Metaverse. So here are six ways that telecom operators can help power the journey to the center of the Metaverse:
- Human interface hardware: Devices such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets will be used by humans to interact with the Metaverse, with the hardware acting as the gateway into virtual worlds. These devices will no doubt be catalyzed by the Metaverse, and operators can take advantage of this opportunity to collaborate with device vendors and drive adoption, for example, by selling VR devices and connectivity services together. However, operators will have to unlock value from these devices by adopting an end-to-end (E2E) “device lifecycle management” approach.
- Cloud computing services: The Metaverse will require huge amounts of computing power, real-time rendering and AI computing capabilities. Given this scale of computing requirements, edge computing will be another essential building block in the Metaverse. Millions of people will seek continuous virtual experiences in real-time in the future, and the cloud won't be able to manage them all. To succeed, operators must align their edge cloud strategies with their legacy cloud initiatives and ensure they have the right partnerships in place with specialist cloud providers.
- Connectivity provider: Connectivity is directly linked to the growth of the Metaverse and the expansion of virtual worlds. With 5G data speeds expected to reach multiple gigabits per second, latency will be ultralow and reliability will be increased. As 5G networks are commercially deployed, they will help consumers and businesses enter the Metaverse. The telecom industry is also expected to see another generational shift to 6G services by 2030, with higher data transfer rates and even lower latency, further pushing the Metaverse forward. The development of the Metaverse will also be fueled by fiber connectivity, which delivers high-bandwidth speeds.
- Advanced analytics for AI: It will be important to determine how large amounts of data will be collected, stored and repurposed in the Metaverse; operators will have many advantages when it comes to repurposing data to improve decision-making and create new demand scenarios. Within the Metaverse, telecom operators will possess a wealth of product, customer and asset data, as well as their legacy retail and distribution capabilities. To increase revenues, telecom operators should foster the right analytics and AI capabilities and identify potential monetization avenues.
- Cybersecurity, privacy and trust: With enterprises and telecom operators coming together in new ways, it is critical that both privacy and security are prioritized. Digital footprints and the integrity of personal data are increasingly important to consumers and businesses today. Consumers tend to trust operators more than other types of TMT providers as data protectors. So, operators should leverage their existing customer relationships to position themselves as identity management experts, as the Metaverse takes shape.
- Metaverse platforms: Many companies are launching their own Metaverse platforms. The keys to their success will be in creating interesting, themed experiences and events that make everyday users spend more time there, as well as offering customized services for businesses and consumers alike. In order to take advantage of the Metaverse’s gradual evolution, operators should be prepared to invest in emerging Metaverse platforms. This will help them build a deeper understanding of the demand scenarios and technical competencies shaping this long-term opportunity.
Metaverse challenges are not new to telecom operators; along with the big technology players, telcos were among the first ecosystem players to start exploring it. To bring the internet to life, some developed markets have already begun experimenting with Metaverse-based platforms that combine multiple technologies, especially 5G. For telcos to succeed on their journey, this exploration must go beyond technological proof of concept and involve the entirety of their organizations, including their business models and technology stacks.