The Metaverse offers opportunities beyond connectivity for telcos
The Metaverse is the increasingly accepted term for a set of interconnected virtual worlds. One way to think about the Metaverse is to see it as a 3D version of the world wide web in which organizations operate their own virtual 3D worlds, rather than 2D web sites. Represented by avatars, visitors to a virtual world can interact with other users or with avatars controlled by artificial intelligence. The term Metaverse entered the popular consciousness when Facebook renamed itself Meta in October 2021.
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The renaming of Facebook sparked a surge of interest in the Metaverse
Source: Google Trends
Whereas the existing Internet is essentially a 2D digital overlay of the world, composed of text, voice, images and video, the Metaverse will provide a 3D digital overlay. This is the way Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang, portrayed the Metaverse in a speech in November 2021. As a leading provider of graphics chips, Nvidia is thinking deeply about how to build a business case for the Metaverse, which could drive rapid growth in demand for its products.
For a fully immersive experience, the Metaverse will need to be accessed through virtual reality (VR) headsets, but it could also be explored by moving through 3D environments using a conventional handset, laptop or television. Indeed, it is important to stress that the fortunes of the Metaverse won’t necessarily depend on the fortunes of VR. Hundreds of millions of people already play video games in 3D, interacting with each other, without wearing headsets.
The Metaverse looks set to host both entirely fictional virtual spaces where people can socialise, play and enjoy entertainment, as well as simulations of the real world, where people can test new product designs, learn new skills or watch concerts and sports events they can’t attend in person.
The first part of this report considers how the Metaverse could create value and the obstacles that lie in its way. It also outlines the strategies of Improbable, Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft and Nvidia – four companies developing many of the key enabling technologies.
The second part explores the Metaverse strategies of telcos. Broadband networks and related telco services are fundamental to the smooth running of digital environments today, and will be the building blocks of the Metaverse. We believe that telcos could play a coordination role that will help prevent the Metaverse from fragmenting into silos that are unable to interoperate with each other.
Our landmark report The Coordination Age: A third age of telecoms explained how reliable and ubiquitous connectivity can enable companies and consumers to use digital technologies to efficiently allocate and source assets and resources. In the case of Metaverse, telcos can help people and businesses to interact and transact with each other safely and securely in 3D environments.
As it considers the opportunities for telcos, this report draws on the experiences and actions of SKT, Telefónica and Verizon, which are each deploying strategies to help coordinate the development of the Metaverse.
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- What is the Metaverse for?
- The lure of the virtual road
- Corporate worlds take over from web sites
- Dominance or democracy?
- The non-fungible flexibility paradox
- Facebook pursues metamorphosis
- Microsoft has most of the pieces
- What will the Metaverse mean for telcos?
- Recreating the real world is challenging
- Traffic implications for telcos
- Opportunities for telcos
- SK Telecom – the full stack standard bearer
- Telefónica looks to play coordination role
- AT&T and Verizon – connectivity plus edge
- AR/VR: Won’t move the 5G needle
- Telco 2030: New purpose, strategy and business models for the Coordination Age
- Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix: Whose digital content is king?
- Fighting the fakes: How telcos can help
- Microsoft, Affirmed and Metaswitch: What does it mean for telecoms?