Metaverse, dubbed as a revolutionary idea, or as the next iteration of the internet, is the concept of a world where anything we can imagine can exist. Powered by the internet and virtual assets, it will be made up of shared 3D virtual spaces where people can come together to interact, engage, transact, and build upon a digital version of life. To work, a global metaverse requires global internet availability and low-latency infrastructure that roughly only 50 per cent of the population currently gets.
As the number of potential use cases for metaverse across the business ecosystem come to fore, with the gaming sector being one of the biggest users for this AR/VR-powered virtual universe, it only a matter of time before the metaverse concept becomes a reality. Applications of metaverse hold potential pan industry. In healthcare industry for instance, metaverse can be applicable across diverse areas including holographic medical imaging or in enabling real-time interactions between patients and healthcare professionals, irrespective of geographical restrictions as well as creating virtual reality simulations for engaging and comprehensive learning experiences for medical students.
Metaverse can also be seen developing virtual, interactive work places with the help of hybrid of virtual reality and mixed reality environments with digital avatars, that offer a meaningful and productive workplace experience. Teams can access different functionalities such as events, offices, conferences, virtual training and trade shows. Another industry that can greatly benefit from this concept is education. For example, virtual reality simulations in the metaverse could help students in architecture and medicine practice their skills.
However, looking beyond the concept, it is the key role that telcos will play to power the metaverse, that will drive its speed of adoption and success.
Role of telcos in bringing metaverse to life
As adoption of the concept of metaverse grows, telecom sector will act as a key enabler by providing the requisite network bandwidth and support structure to make it a reality. Network latency reduction, symmetrical bandwidth advancement, and overall network speed acceleration are requisites for establishing this concept.
5G forms one of the critical cogs in building a metaverse; turning that metaverse experience into something that reaches out into one’s daily life. In fact, GSMA Intelligence predicts $720 billion worth of spending on 5G networks between 2021-2025 globally. It is roughly estimated that early metaverse uses such as enhanced and immersive media will account for 40 per cent of the 5G-enabled application market by 2030.
Further, technology companies, mobile operators, service providers, and policymakers need to collaborate to achieve network enhancements, such as innovations in fields like hybrid local and remote real-time rendering, data compression, as well as spectrum advocacy and such to work on metaverse readiness of future connectivity and cellular standards, network optimizations, improved latency between devices and within radio access networks, and much more.
As the concept of metaverse becomes more broad based and sees greater adoption, it will give a fillip to the telcos powering it at the back end.
How can tech companies help telcos monetise from metaverse?
Metaverse is unlike other technological tools or solutions; it is an alternate virtual universe and therefore, service providers and telcos would need to set up a clearcut and well-defined monetization model to get returns on their investments.
Telcos would need a two-pronged strategy here that covers two vital aspects; first, how would they sell metaverse to the end-users? Second, what would be the technology needed to fulfil the monetisation model that telcos are looking to lay down?
Unlike conventional telco service bundles, metaverse is not simple usage-led model. Its complexity will need to be understood in context of the knowledge required, application scenarios, as well as expertise in how to curate various elements such as usage rating, usage billing, and much more.
Here, technology solution providers such as Amdocs come into play by enabling telcos to build comprehensive, efficient monetisation models such as laying down tools and solutions across different aspects such as charging components, promotions, packages, amongst others, that can help telcos charge the end consumers for using metaverse.
Metaverse and telcos – the Indian scenario
In India, the adoption of metaverse would be late as compared to other geographies. This is primarily due to the delay in rolling out the underlying technology of 5G in the country. At present, Indian telcos are still struggling with RoI on their 4G investments. Thus, connectivity will prove to be a major challenge as without high-speed network, most of the metaverse applications are not possible.
Additionally, Indian tech companies need to develop the requisite infrastructure to be able to deliver the best metaverse experience. Without the devices to access metaverse from, these metaverses will not be used to their true potential.
As businesses start to focus on the potential of digital and mixed reality experiences driven by technology, the metaverse is the future of immersive user and enterprise experiences. However, until the very real challenges of network enhancements and strong support infrastructure are dealt with, one can only wait and watch what. Here the question of the chicken and egg becomes relevant for telcos and metaverse.
Views are personal. The author is Division President, Amdocs.
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