Sunday, May 19, 2024

    EDITORIAL How 5G is the key to the kingdom of the metaverse

    5G has grown more rapidly than any other of the ‘Gs’ that have preceded it and has been the fastest technology to reach 1 billion consumers – taking fewer than four years to hit this milestone. In contrast, it took 3G subscriptions 12 years and credit cards 74.

    And its growth is set to continue apace for years to come, with data from Future Market Insights indicating that 5G is growing at some 10.9% CAGR as consumers really get on board with it. Its overall speed, dependability and roaming capabilities are all early wins – but it is all the other things that it enables that will really seal the deal and see 5G become ubiquitous.

    5G offers much today for users, it also offers much for businesses – increasingly being sold as a tech that can allow the build out of reliable, high-speed broadband private networks, rivalling and surpassing wifi in many instances. This is also being picked up by governments and local authorities, which see semi-private, or non-public MNO, networks as the key to developing smart cities and slowly connecting everything together.

    This nexus of consumer, business and city-wide 5G is not only going to offer MNOs a lucrative network build and roll out, it is also going to create a really powerful high-speed, high capacity web of connectivity that consumers will literally be able to access everywhere they go – certainly in urban areas. And this creates vast opportunities for telemedia companies.

    With new capabilities – not to mention a burgeoning number of networked consumers and businesses – comes the opportunity to not only roll out more of the same VAS offerings that are already popular, but to create new and innovative new ones.

    Outside of the telemedia industry, there are many advances happening, all predicated on using high-speed networks like 5G, that are also going to become areas of great interest to our sector.

    Chief among these is the metaverse. While many see it as just virtual reality gaming – and let’s not overlook the fact that putative metaverse games platform Roblox now dominates the iPad gaming market – it is so much more. It is going to be the way in which we all interact with the internet and, therefore, with each other and the businesses we choose to engage with. It may be some way off – give it five years, I say – but gone will be typing and moving a mouse about to use the web, and in will be voice activated, 3D AR and VR interaction. Ecommerce will involve heading to a metaverse store, a simulacrum of a real store, where you can pick up what you want and put it in your basket.

    The metaverse will also be where content is discovered and interacted with in much more immersive ways. Already, more than a quarter (27%) of UK consumers believe that the news will be delivered through the metaverse within the next five to 10 years, highlighting the global shift in digital media consumption.

    The metaverse isn’t just a novel way of playing games, it is truly a new way and more natural way to interact and engage. Understanding this, and working towards adapting things like payments, messaging and VAS to work in these new ways is something that businesses need to start looking at now. Today there may only be some 50,000 actual VR enabled users of the metaverse, but it is already worth some $60bn. By 2027 – at current rates of growth – it could hit $430bn. That is 47% CAGR over just five years.

    It won’t be all about headsets, it will be a mobile experience, but it is coming and now is the time to prepare. 5G is growing wildly and it will make delivering this kind of experience much easier and more ubiquitous. Consumers will want it, you have to be ready.

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