Connection and Networking: Building Metaverse

Metaverset. A term first invented by American author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, in which humans interact with each other in a virtual reality-based world, the next internet.

The origin

A “street” in this imaginary metavers is described in the novel as “a computer graphics protocol written on a piece of paper somewhere – none of these things are physically constructed. Rather, it is software available to the public via the global fiber optic network. . “

For those of us outside the sci-fi world, that term remained unheard of until October 2021, when Facebook, Inc. renamed itself Meta Platforms and announced its new long-term focus on building the metaverse. Since then, the meta-verse has been thrown forward at the forefront of the media debate.

David Hutton, chief engineer of the Telecom Infra project, says that in order to “fulfill the promise of the meta-verse, all industry stakeholders must work together to understand the necessary service requirements and their impact on the infrastructure and management of the network”.

While most conversations have focused on upper tier applications and technologies, such as gaming, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, and augmented reality, it is infrastructure and network layer technologies that need to be determined.

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

In response to these comments and the growing idea of ​​the meta-verse as a particular future, Capacity asks the question: who will build these networks?

Network requirements

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

According to Raja Koduri, senior vice president and general manager of the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group at Intel, “Really sustainable and immersive computing, scaled and accessible to billions of people in real time, will require … 1,000 times increased computing efficiency from the current state of the art ”.

But what exactly does it mean, or what will it mean in terms of bandwidth, speed and latency, fiber penetration and which infrastructure ecosystem will be most affected – submarine, mobile and towers, data centers – we will see.

“Metaversen’s potential 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 line.

“There are several computer elements that need to be assembled for us to see the true potential of the meta-verse, and these include form factors for portable devices, edge data centers, and the cloud.”

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

“Changes in throughput and latency will affect the network infrastructure, and we will need orders of magnitude improvements in computational efficiency and performance if high-bandwidth connectivity is to meet end-user needs.”

“For the meta-verse to exist, an adaptive infrastructure that integrates hardware and software is essential,” said Liu Jun, vice president and general manager of AI and high-performance computing at Inspur Information. Inspur recently launched MetaEngine, an NVIDIA-certified system designed to run large-scale digital twin simulations [virtual environments].

“Hardware must deliver computing power that is suitable for a wide range of computer-intensive scenarios. The software must serve as a platform for connecting various tools and algorithms,” says Jun.

The closest estimate of Metaverse’s needs came from Moussa Zaghdoud, executive vice president of the cloud communications business division at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. Zaghdoud believes that in order to “bring worlds virtually to life, we would need broadband speeds well above 1 GB due to the huge amounts of data to be processed. Latency also plays a crucial role, as response times must be 10 milliseconds or less , so that everything goes as planned. “

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

Robert Shore, senior vice president of marketing at Infinera, said that while enhanced broadband connectivity, such as 5G, will be a “critical part of metaverset activation”, the industry needs to think differently about how to build networks because “Traditional Network Architectures are not well-suited to support the kind of capacity, latency, and traffic patterns that will emerge as the meta-verse 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 connectivity infrastructures optimized for edge computing based networks that can support fast-growing access connections”. requests ”.

Apps and revenue generation

In addition to the technology and experience of 5G, there are still questions about how Metaverse will monetize how much its network will cost, and most importantly, where all of these funds will ultimately come from.

Ivan Liljeqvist, co-founder and CEO of Moralis Web3, a global Web3 development platform, believes that revenue generation will come from a variety of sources, with hyperscales leading the way.

“There will not only be one path to revenue generation in the metaverse, and I think it’s helpful to think about it the same way we do for traditional e-commerce, with a wide range of products and services available for the users. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs also promise to unlock new business opportunities for companies and creators, ”says Liljeqvist.

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

Microsoft’s acquisition is actually put on hold due to an ongoing investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission. But if the regulator approves the deal, says Liljeqvist, “by buying the company 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, and break down barriers between different devices. I expect the rest of Big Tech to take a very similar line, ”he adds.

Shen Ye, global hardware manager at HTC, agrees that each device in the meta-verse will generate revenue in a different way.

“Every organization has a different approach to revenue generation,” he says. “There is no uniform approach. It will be all related to hardware, software, content packages, in-app purchases, etc. VR and XR will open up new experiences and there will be new experiences with revenue generation.

Marcin Bała, CEO of telecommunications network specialist Salumanus, believes that the revenue streams from the meta-verse will come from making money on data or “‘selling ourselves’, as we do today with Facebook and LinkedIn, etc.”.

“With [selling ourselves] we do not pay with money, but with our time, the time we spend on the platform, ”says Bała. “I think it will be reflected with Meta, especially with the idea that we would basically live in the metaverse and provide Meta data about everything about us that it can make money on.”

Once the infrastructure is in place to deliver the required level of network performance, the metaverse must be layered with a range of additional technologies.

“To create a truly credible and immersive metaverse, it’s crucial to eliminate any performance issues that may cause delays or issues that disrupt the user experience,” said Ian Waters, principal at Cisco’s ThousandEyes. “To deliver a fully integrated experience, there will be a huge 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 end-to-end visibility across the entire digital supply chain and the cloud and Internet networks that deliver the meta-verse’s digital experience ‘, as it “will be crucial to see, detect and optimize any performance issues, before they cause crashes or disruptive user interactions. “

AI and quantum technology will also have roles “as the more we connect, the more we will have to process the data with the best possible reproduction”, Zaghdoud adds, and in securing the meta-verse.

“Quantum and AI will be crucial to create realism in the metaverse, but also to protect this space. Quantum is often referred to as a security threat, but its power will no doubt have to be harnessed to provide adequate cybersecurity in the metaverse,” he adds. Alcatel -Lucent Enterprises EVP also warns that “uneven availability of connectivity” will affect the success of the metaverse, as it must be widely available for interest to grow.

The roadmap

While experts predict that it will take five to 10 years before Metaverse begins to become real, the consensus is that it will “grow gradually, rather than start at once,” in Liljeqvist’s words.

Recognizing that there will be a metaverse, he predicts, “there will be several different virtual worlds in it, some of which will be the proprietary environments of companies such as Meta and Microsoft.”

With recently announced major projects in Spain and Canada, Meta is investing in both the infrastructure, the global laboratories and innovation centers, and the talent pool needed to build the meta-verse. However, according to its own statement, Meta does not know what exact requirements the metaverse will place on telecommunications networks.

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

“We know that bringing the meta-verse to life will require major advances in the underlying connectivity infrastructure to support future immersive experiences. We are actively evaluating these requirements.

Regardless of these requirements, it will happen like any advancement in technology: slowly and together. As Infinera’s Shore puts it, “Building the metaverse is a journey, not a destination.”

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