5G Focus: Are you ready for the Metaverse?


Yes, we know. You’ve just got your head around social media customer support and realized that chatbots are not going to save the world, when suddenly you’re in a meeting or at a conference and everyone is talking about the Metaverse.


Cool, you think, but I don’t have to worry about any of this just yet. After all, people aren’t going to start using the Metaverse for anything very much in the next few years. Or are they…?


It’s true that not every market is rushing towards the Metaverse. But somebody is buying into the concept, at least if you believe what McKinsey is saying. According to their report Value Creation in the Metaverse, the Metaverse will be worth $5 trillion by 2030 and more than $120 billion was invested into it during the first five months of 2022. That’s double what was invested in the whole of 2021. IDC also noted that global shipments of VR headsets jumped 242% during the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period the previous year.


And, for once, CSPs aren’t leaving this market to others. Still stinging from the social media revolution, which saw so much value flow away to the so-called OTTs, CSPs are determined to get more value out of their 5G network investments. As EY recently noted, the Metaverse presents two opportunities for CSPs: an ecosystem for them to participate in and an ecosystem for them to enable. One opens up new revenue streams and the ability to play a more valuable role in the Metaverse ecosystem; the other offers unprecedented opportunities for business and operational support.


Bandwidth, bandwidth everywhere

The risk with 5G and full fiber is that few of the much-talked-about services have grabbed the public’s imagination to the point where they’re likely to part with their hard-earned cash. In fact, it’s been said - perhaps a little harshly - that 5G is a network in search of an application.


Well the Metaverse is, in short, the bandwidth-intensive, QoS-sensitive service everyone’s been looking for. Even better, both consumers and businesses are starting to get excited about it.


But not only is the Metaverse a network-intense service, but it requires more sophisticated support than ever before - the Metaverse is to the chatbot what SMS is to TikTok. To succeed in the Metaverse CSPs need both a quality network proposition and also the world-class support to back it up – possibly accessed via the Metaverse.


The Metaverse is poised to transform support experiences

Imagine the contact center of the future. You no longer queue while listening to boring music for hours, getting increasingly frustrated. Having slipped on your headset you walk along to your CSP’s support center where the support avatar shows you to a seat. While you wait, you can access entertainment – a fantastic little video game, a new episode of your favorite MetaZine or a concert by a virtual rock group - the possibilities are endless.


When it’s your turn to be seen, the support avatar will show you a realistic picture of your actual network. “See that red alarm,” she will say, “that’s the problem. Let’s take a look.” The avatar will swipe on the area to dive down to the cell level. An info-blast will pop up explaining that the engineers know about the fault, have diagnosed the root cause and are fixing it. Resolution time is 20 minutes. “While we’re at it,” the avatar will say, taking a look at your home, “I can see your home gateway is slowing everything down, let’s see if we can make a few adjustments…Voila!” She’ll smile, apologize and throw you some digital currency to smooth over the inconvenience. You’ll wonder whether to spend your digital coins on a new (digital) outfit for your avatar, a Metaverse concert you want to go to, or – the sensible option - to credit it against your next bill.


Laying the Metaverse foundation today

From a customer service point of view, the Metaverse is simply the newest, buzziest, most fashionable support channel ever! But integrating Metaverse support into the channel mix means having a solid data foundation upon which to build. Getting that right starts today.


Fortunately, Subtonomy’s Network Experience Platform already works across all network types – including 5G - and can provide accurate, real-time insight into the actual network experience of each and every customer to any channel – from agents taking voice calls in the contact center to self-service applications and chatbot-assisted help. Eventually, that data will even be supplied to avatars in your Metaverse support channel.


“This opportunity calls for vast enhancements in capacity and fundamental shifts in how networks are architected and deployed, as well as industry-wide collaboration — from tech companies to mobile operators, service providers, policymakers, and more — to prepare for the metaverse,” Dan Rabinovitsj, VP of Connectivity, Meta

The complexity of supporting such a QoS-sensitive and bandwidth intensive service as the Metaverse means that traditional approaches to managing service quality simply won’t do. Service assurance will need to be automatic, proactive and highly personalized. It will also need to support finely-tuned QoS in individual network slices.


But the good news is that by working with Subtonomy to support your current channels and customer inquiries, you’ll be in a great position when your organization decides to roll out VR contact centers or full Metaverse customer support!


Think this is too far off to worry about?


Many telcos in Europe and Asia are already experimenting with the Metaverse’s potential.


Meta is already working in partnership with Telefónica and Verizon to build proofs of concept and testbeds for the Metaverse. It emphasizes the requirement for symmetrical bandwidth, sub-25 ms latency, and a huge expansion of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) to handle massive increases in backhaul data. Verizon is working on the edge computing part of the puzzle (MEC) to measure the impact on network performance metrics and learn more about how to maintain service quality.


Deutsche Telekom has partnered with SK Telecom to bring ifland - a 5G-based metaverse launched in Korea in 2021 – to Europe. Initial tests have included creating a virtual space modeled on a German city. ifland has been a huge success in Korea. In the year since its launch it was downloaded more than 8.7 million times, with the average monthly interaction time increasing to 61 minutes. SK Telecom has received more than 2,000 partnership enquiries from companies seeking to be involved in its development. And, in 2023, South Korea has the goal to make Seoul the first city in the world with a metaverse platform for public services.


The Metaverse is also taking off in Luxembourg. With Orange announcing in July 2022 that its latest Orange Digital Center in Luxembourg would focus specifically on the metaverse. This center will support start-ups, raise awareness of opportunities and dangers. Meanwhile, The University of Luxembourg, Infinite Reality and Virtual Rangers have teamed up to launch a Metaverse project that features a digital twin of part of Luxembourg.