Buzz or bust? Overcoming the barriers to metaverse success

When the barriers to connectivity and interoperability have been overcome, technology providers will be able to open the door for consumers to enter the metaverse.

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Niall Norton, General Manager, Amdocs Networks

Amdocs

26 Jul 2022

Buzz or bust? Overcoming the barriers to metaverse success

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Online spaces where people can socialise, work, and play as avatars are dominating discussions surrounding the future of technology and the way we communicate.

Recent research from Amdocs supports this notion, with more than 80% of consumers seeing promise in the metaverse. This highlights the huge business opportunity for the technology providers that can enable its creation. Laying the tracks for the railroad of the 21st century is a great opportunity.

This means all eyes are now on technology companies to enable and deliver high-quality metaverse-based experiences within this experimental phase to cement its future. Consumers and enterprises in a plethora of sectors such as gaming, property, music, fashion, retail and events could benefit from the metaverse and the vast online world it promises. But the question everyone is asking is: can it become a reality, or is it just a pipedream?

Critics say that the metaverse is just a buzzword, and that a lot more work and technological investment is needed to overcome the main barriers to its success: namely the need for ubiquitous connectivity and interoperability. Essentially, this means having the infrastructure in place to enable strong connections to, from and within the metaverse. Only once these underlying concerns have been resolved will the metaverse be able to break through from dream to reality. 

Ubiquitous connectivity

There are concerns about whether telecommunications networks are ready to enable the metaverse to deliver the seamless shared digital experience it promises. The uncharted waters of the metaverse bring technical challenges of a kind never seen before: speed, performance and control will need to be optimised to enable it to deliver. This is even before mentioning the potential new cybersecurity threats that may arise from the plethora of new connected endpoints and the draw of the data such a digitally connected world will hold.    

In such early stages of the metaverse’s life, developers will need to prioritise aspects of the user experience. In fact, more than half (55%) of US consumers would be willing to replace in-person experiences with virtual ones, but only the if an optimal internet connection can be guaranteed. The frontrunners in the metaverse story will need to take responsibility for delivering value above and beyond the basic connectivity pipe, and leveraging these innovations to start generating new revenue streams. 

What is needed to enable this is ubiquitous connectivity across 5G, WiFi, in-home fibre, private networks, satellite broadband and more. The network is, of course, where the metaverse will live, making it an essential piece of the puzzle and acting as the key that will allow CSPs to unlock new revenue streams. Technological advancements such as 5G standalone (SA) and cloud connectivity will be central to providing the ultra-reliable, low latency communication needed to support the content-rich services expected in a metaverse-led future. Augmenting connectivity by embracing cloud and accelerating 5G rollouts is therefore fundamental to overcoming the barriers to metaverse success.

Interoperability and standardisation

Much as the metaverse will enable shared experienced and enhanced communication and interaction between its users, collaboration and cohesion must be a central tenet of its underlying infrastructure. CSPs and technology providers, therefore, need to focus on interoperability. To achieve this, it may be that standards – such as what the 3GPP is to 5G – will have to be adopted to enable a seamless user experience.

The need for interoperability has been cemented by recent research from Amdocs surveying UK gamers, which found that 33% felt the metaverse will unlock new and interesting ways to connect with others, game (31%) and work (26%). To enable this, it’s likely that multiple metaverses will be available for different uses or interests, highlighting the need for standardisation so users will be able to easily move between them.

The question is: who should be responsible for this? The answer to this remains unclear but whoever it is will need to adopt a platform-like approach to enable multiple metaverses to exist in the same plane. Industry collaboration will be crucial to allow users to move freely between different virtual worlds and experiences. Ultimately, the long-term path to interoperability is rooted in decentralisation, and not reliance on a single service provider. Openness to collaboration will ensure service providers don’t risk being isolated from the metaverse and the opportunities it offers.

Investing in the future

When the barriers to connectivity and interoperability have been overcome, technology providers will be able to open the door for consumers to enter the metaverse and begin to create an entirely new way for people to connect and communicate. However, a long journey is ahead, with huge strides needed to enable CSPs, telcos and other technology providers – such as those working in security – to offer what is expected of the metaverse and manage the vast quantities of data that will be hosted both within the metaverse and that will need to travel in and out of it.

As CSPs experiment and work to enable the development of the metaverse, operating in the cloud will become even more vital. The agility it provides can enable more flexible and efficient work to be conducted, facilitating the development of new innovations and allowing them to be brought to market faster. 

Since the pandemic, attempts to design a digital world that coexists with reality have moved from science fiction to a burgeoning new industry. As a broad idea, the metaverse is still yet to achieve mainstream buy-in, with 45% of US consumers admitting that they aren’t even familiar with the concept. However, a number of acquisitions made by large tech corporations – such as Sony’s purchase of Epic Games for $2bn or Microsoft’s buyout of Activision Blizzard for $68.7bn – show they are betting on its success, especially within the gaming sector. Unlike in science fiction, this industry shift will not act as a replacement for the real world but will augment our current experience. Only, however, once the technology has caught up with our ambitions.

This article originally appeared on VanillaPlus

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