Connectivity and Networking: Building the Metaverse

metaverse. A term first coined by American writer Neil Stevenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash where humans interact with each other in a virtual reality-based world, The Next Internet.

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“Street” in this fictional metaverse is described in the novel as “a computer graphics protocol written on a piece of paper somewhere—none of these things are physically created. Rather, it is publicly available software over the global fiber optic network.”

For those of us outside the realm of science fiction, the term remained unheard of until October 2021, when Facebook, Inc. rebranded itself as Meta Platforms and announced its new, long-term focus on building the metaverse. Since then, the metaverse has been pushed to the forefront of media debate.

“To fulfill the promise of the metaverse, all industry stakeholders must work together to understand critical service requirements and their impact on infrastructure and network management,” says David Hutton, chief engineer on the Telecom Infra project.

While most conversations have focused on higher-layer applications and technologies, such as gaming, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, and extended reality, network and infrastructure layer technologies must be identified.

At Mobile World Congress 2022, Meta Co-Founder, President and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “As we build for the Metaverse…creating a true sense of presence in virtual worlds delivered to smart glasses and VR headsets will require massive advances in connectivity, “adding” things Such as remote projection to the edge computing cloud and immersive large-scale video streaming will require entirely new types of networking.”

In response to these comments and the growing idea of ​​the metaverse as a particular future, the capabilities beg the question: Who will build these networks?

network requirements

In order for telecom operators to meet the requirements of the metaverse, we must first know the network requirements. The unsurprising fact is that no one seems to know it yet.

According to Raja Kodori, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Rapid Computing and Graphics Systems Group, “Truly continuous and immersive computing, at a scale and accessible to billions of people in real time, requires … a 1,000-fold increase in computing efficiency than current state of the art “.

But what exactly it means or what it will mean in terms of bandwidth, speed, latency, fiber penetration, and the infrastructure system that will be affected the most — submarines, mobile towers, towers, data centers — we’ll see.

“The potential for the metaverse is huge, but as an industry, we are still in the early stages of development,” said Paul Williamson, senior vice president and general manager of Arm’s customer business line.

“There are many elements of computing that have to come together in order to see the true potential of metaverse, and these factors include the form of wearables, data centers and the cloud.”

Williamson continues to say that connectivity will play a big role because VR applications based on Metaverse will require “a massive increase in throughput as well as extremely low latency compared to current video applications”.

“Changes in throughput and latency will affect the network infrastructure and we will need massive improvements in computational efficiency and performance if the high-bandwidth connection is to meet end-user demands.”

“For the metaverse to exist, an adaptive infrastructure that integrates hardware and software is necessary,” says Liu Jun, vice president and general manager of artificial intelligence and high performance computing at Inspur Information. Inspur recently launched MetaEngine, an NVIDIA-certified system designed to run large-scale dual digital simulations. [virtual environments].

“Hardware should provide suitable computing power for a wide range of intensive computing scenarios. The software should act as a platform for linking different tools and algorithms,” says John.

The closest estimate of Metaverse’s needs came from Moussa Zaghdoud, Executive Vice President of Cloud Communications Business at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. Zaghdoud believes that “to bring worlds almost to life, we will need broadband speeds in excess of 1GB due to the massive amounts of data that must be processed. Latency also plays an important role as response times need to be 10ms or less for everything to go smoothly. As planned.”

With all the work that has been done in 5G networks, and with 6G already advanced, one might assume that the Metaverse would be just an extension of that.

While improved broadband connectivity, such as 5G, will be an “important part of revitalizing the metaverse,” the industry needs to think differently about how networks are built, said Robert Shore, Infinera’s senior vice president of marketing, because “traditional network architectures are not Well suited to support the types of capacity, response time, and traffic patterns that will emerge as the metaverse grows.”

In Shore’s view, the new architecture will be based on “new concepts, such as edge computing, bringing application hosting devices closer to the end user, and building optimal connectivity infrastructures for networks based on edge computing that can support a rapidly growing access connection.” requests”.

apps and monetization

Beyond the technology and lessons learned from 5G, there are still questions about how the Metaverse will be monetized, how much its networks will cost, and most importantly, where all that money will ultimately come from.

Ivan Liljqvist, co-founder and CEO of Moralis Web3, the global Web3 development platform, believes that monetization will come from a variety of sources, with superstars leading the way.

“There will only be one path to monetization in the metaverse, and I think it pays to think of it the same way we think about traditional e-commerce, while providing a full range of products and services to users. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs also promise to unlock new business opportunities. for businesses and creators,” says Liljeqvist.

Using Microsoft as an example, he says its pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard earlier this year “give us a clear picture of its metaverse strategy.”

The Microsoft acquisition has effectively been put on hold, due to an ongoing investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission. But if the regulator agrees to the deal, says Liljeqvist, “by acquiring Microsoft [will buy] content, such as Call of Duty and Candy Crush, as well as the communities and revenue streams associated with these games.”

“Microsoft’s strategy is clear to everyone: buy content, buy communities, break down barriers between different devices. I expect other big tech companies to take a very similar position.”

Shen Ye, global head of hardware at HTC, agrees that each entity in the metaverse will generate revenue in a different way.

“Every organization has a different approach to monetization,” he says. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach. It will be all about hardware, software, content packages, in-app purchases, etc. VR and XR will open up new experiences, and there will be new monetization experiences.

Marcin Bała, CEO of Communications Networks company Salumanus, believes that revenue streams from the metaverse will come from data monetization or “selling ourselves,” as we are doing today with Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.”

“With [selling ourselves] We don’t get paid with money, but time spent on the platform,” explains Bata. “I think that will reflect with Meta, especially with the idea that we basically live in the Metaverse, providing Meta data about everything about us and it can monetize.”

Once the infrastructure is in place, in order to provide the required level of network performance, the metaverse will need to be layered with a number of additional technologies.

“To create a truly believable and immersive metaverse, it is critical to eliminate any performance issues that can create delays or disrupt user experience,” said Ian Waters, director of ThousandEyes at Cisco. “To deliver a fully integrated experience, there will be significant reliance on API performance, as well as technologies such as blockchain and payment processing, as well as edge computing to bring processing power closer to the user.”

Waters adds that this will include a holistic view across the entire digital supply chain, clouds and the Internet that deliver the “digital experience” in the metaverse as “it will be critical to see, detect and improve any performance issues before they cause disruptions or annoying user interactions.”

Artificial intelligence and quantum technology will also have roles “because the more we connect, we will have to process the data in the best possible view,” Zoughdoud adds, and in securing the metaverse.

“Quantum and artificial intelligence will be of paramount importance in creating realism within the metaverse, but also in protecting this space. Quantum is often referred to as a security threat, but its power arguably needs to be harnessed to provide adequate cybersecurity in the metaverse,” he adds. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Executive Vice President also warns that “uneven connectivity” will affect the success of the metaverse, as it must be widely available for interest to grow.

Roadmap

And while experts predict that it will take five to ten years before metaverse becomes a reality, the consensus is that it will “grow gradually, rather than launch all at once,” Liljqvist puts it.

While he acknowledges that there will be a metaverse, he predicts that “there will be many different virtual worlds within, some of which will be corporate-owned environments, such as Meta and Microsoft.”

With major projects announced in Spain and Canada recently, Meta is investing in all of the infrastructure, global labs, innovation centers and talent pool it needs to build the metaverse. But by its own admission, Meta doesn’t know the exact requirements that meta will place on telecom networks.

“We continue to invest in core infrastructure to meet demand and build the future of Meta,” a Meta spokesperson told Capacity.

“We know that reviving the metaverse will require major developments in the underlying connectivity infrastructure to support immersive experiences in the future. We are actively evaluating these requirements.

Whatever those demands are, it will happen like all advances in technology: slowly and collectively. As Infinera’s Shore says, “Building the metaverse is a journey, not a destination.”

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