Connectivity and networks: construction of metavers

The metavers. A term first coined by American author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash in which humans interact with each other in a world based on virtual reality, the nearby Internet.

The origins

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

For those of us outside the world of science fiction, this term remained unheard of until October 2021, when Facebook, Inc. renamed itself Meta Platforms and announced its new long-term approach to building metavers. . Since then, the metavers has been catapulted to the forefront of the media debate.

David Hutton, chief engineer of the Telecom Infra project, says that to “fulfill the promise of metavers, all industry players must work together to understand the necessary service requirements and their impact on network infrastructure and management. “.

While most conversations have focused on top-tier applications and technologies, such as gaming, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, and extended reality, network-layer technologies and infrastructure those to be determined.

At Mobile World Congress 2022, Meta co-founder, president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “as we build for Metaverse … create a true sense of presence in virtual worlds delivered to smart glasses and headphones Virtual Reality will require massive advances in connectivity. “

In response to these comments and the growing idea of ​​metavers as a definite future, Capacity raises the question: who will build these networks?

Network requirements

In order for telecom operators to meet the requirements of the metavers, we must first know the requirements of the network. Unsurprisingly, no one seems to know yet.

According to Raja Koduri, senior vice president and CEO of Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group, “truly persistent and immersive computing, scalable and accessible to billions of humans in real time, will require … an increase 1,000 times the computer efficiency of the current state of the art ”.

But what exactly it means or what it will 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’ll see.

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

“There are several computing elements that need to be put together to see the true potential of metavers, and these include portable form factor factors, cutting-edge data centers, and the cloud.”

Williamson goes on to say that connectivity will play an important role, as Metaverse-based virtual reality applications will require a “massive increase in performance and extremely low latency compared to current video applications.”

“Changes in performance and latency will affect network infrastructure and we will need orders of magnitude improvement in computing efficiency and performance if high bandwidth connectivity is to meet end-user requests “.

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

“Hardware should provide adequate computing power for a wide range of computing-intensive scenarios. Software should function as a platform to connect different tools and algorithms,” says Jun.

The closest metaverse needs estimate comes from Moussa Zaghdoud, executive vice president of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s cloud communications business division. Zaghdoud believes that “to bring the worlds to life virtually, we would need broadband speeds well in excess of 1 GB due to the huge volumes of data to process. Latency also plays a crucial role, as response times must be 10 milliseconds or less for everything to go as planned.

With all the work that has been done on 5G networks, and with 6G already advancing, one could assume that Metaverse will only be an extension of that.

Robert Shore, senior vice president of marketing for Infinera, said that while enhanced broadband connectivity, such as 5G, will be a “critical part of activating metavers,” the industry needs to think differently about building networks. , because “the traditional network”. Architectures are not well-suited to withstand the types of capacity, latency, and traffic patterns that will emerge as the metaverse grows. “

According to Shore, 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 connectivity “. requests ”.

Applications and monetization

Beyond the technology and lessons learned from 5G, questions remain about how Metaverse will be monetized, how much its networks will cost, and most importantly, where all these funds will come from.

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

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

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

The acquisition of Microsoft is effectively suspended due to an ongoing investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission. But if the regulator approves the deal, says Liljeqvist, “by acquiring 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 hope the rest of Big Tech takes a very similar line, “he added.

Shen Ye, HTC’s global hardware chief, agrees that each metavers entity will generate revenue differently.

“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. Virtual reality and XR will open up new experiences and there will be new monetization experiences.

Marcin Bała, CEO of telecommunications networking specialist Salumanus, believes that metavers revenue streams will come from monetizing data or “selling ourselves”, as we do today with Facebook and LinkedIn, etc. . “

“With [selling ourselves] we don’t pay with money, but with our time, the time we spend on the platform, ”explains Bała. “I think that will be reflected with Meta, especially with the idea that we will basically live in the metavers, giving Meta data about everything it can monetize about us.”

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

“To create a truly credible and immersive metavers, it’s absolutely critical to eliminate any performance issues that could create delays or issues that disrupt the user experience,” said Ian Waters, director of Cisco’s ThousandEyes. “To provide a fully integrated experience, there will be a strong reliance on API performance, as well as technologies such as blockchain and payment processing, as well as cutting-edge computing to bring the processing power of the API closer. user “.

Waters adds that this will include end-to-end visibility across the entire digital supply chain and in the cloud and Internet networks that offer the “digital experience” of metavers, as “it will be crucial to see, detect and optimize any issues. performance before they cause “. blockages or disruptive user interactions “.

AI and quantum technology will also play a role “because the more we connect, the more we have to process the data with the best possible representation,” Zaghdoud adds, and in securing the metavers.

“Quantum and AI will be key to creating realism within the metaverse, but also to protecting that space. Quantum is often known as a security threat, but its power is likely to be harnessed to provide adequate cybersecurity to the metaverse.” , add. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s EVP also warns that “uneven connectivity availability” will affect the success of the metaverse, as it will need to be widely available for interest to grow.

The roadmap

While experts predict that it will be five to ten years before Metavers begins to become real, the consensus is that it will “grow gradually, rather than launching all at once,” in Liljeqvist’s words.

While acknowledging that there will be a metavers, he predicts that “there will be several different virtual worlds within it, some of which will be enterprise-owned environments, such as Meta and Microsoft.”

With major projects in Spain and Canada recently announced, Meta is investing in infrastructure, global labs and innovation centers, as well as the talent pool it needs to build the metavers. But by its own admission, Meta does not know what exact requirements the metavers will put on telecommunications networks.

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

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

Whatever these demands are, it will happen like all technological advances: slowly and together. As Infinera’s Shore puts it, “Building the metavers is a journey, not a destination.”

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