‘How do we address the network and connectivity challenge of creating the metaverse?’ event roundup
On 11 January 2023, techUK convened a webinar to discuss the connectivity challenges facing the metaverse. The session was chaired by Laura Foster, techUK’s Head of Technology and Innovation, and the Q&A by Sophie James, Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy at techUK.
The three speakers were:
- Andy Gower, Head of Interactive and Immersive Content Research,â¯BT
- Dean Bubley, Founder and CEO,â¯Disruptive Analysis
- Jeevan Namboodiri, Senior Consultant – 5G,â¯CGI
When techUK discusses the metaverse, it refers to the multiple metaverses that will likely be created in future. Connectivity therefore does not just refer to connecting people to the metaverses, but the metaverses to each other. How will connectivity influence have an influence?
A key theme that emerged was that the type of metaverse will largely be dictated by the connectivity solutions on offer, particularly regarding network latency. This can scale from augmented reality, a technology already seeing commercial deployment in existing networks, to extended reality (XR), which holds the possibility of a tactile metaverse that can utilise each sense but will require much higher levels of connectivity bandwidth to support a mass market of users. Similarly, without the necessary bandwidth, headsets will require more processing power and may thus be harder to use.
Tackling these connectivity challenges
Each of the speakers broadly agreed that there was a need to rethink architectures to support metaverse applications, especially as rethought architectures allow for rethought technology solutions. These include through edge computing currently tested by BT 5G EDGE XR, which allows low-latency processing and cloud rendering, as well as other software-based solutions designed to reduce the load on the network itself, such as AI that tracks eye movement to render only the part of the screen being looked at: one solution with the potential to avoid unnecessary processing.
Architectures will also have to support the 80% of metaverse interaction that will happen indoors, making mobile networks potentially less suitable for facilitating connectivity. Advances in Wi-Fi technology, such as Wi-Fi 7, or rethought infrastructure such as Fibre to the Room hold the potential to increase connectivity in the home. Equally, there is opportunity for new engineered indoor solutions for mobile to meet the requirements of metaverse interaction.
It was agreed that while connectivity is not the single greatest challenge facing the metaverse, telecoms will play a crucial role in determining the kind of metaverse that would be commercially and technologically viable.
However, connecting the metaverse is something that is already possible, and it is certainly possible to ensure that even the most advanced metaverse applications have the required connectivity, both through improving network architectures and increasing network usage efficiency.