Industry Blog

The metaverse is coming: are mobile operators ready?

Time to read: 3 minutes

The “metaverse” has gone meta, so to speak. Unless you’ve managed to completely disconnect yourself from the digital world which, let’s face it, is nigh on impossible these days, you’ll have seen this new buzzword spreading around the internet like a virus. The concept of being able to step into a virtual world, whether it’s to fend off a zombie attack with your friends or attend an important meeting while, errr, not attending an important meeting, isn’t exactly new. Take Oculus Rift, for instance, which transports gamers into the very heart of their virtual gaming environments. Or the plethora of new platforms that allow business to build their own custom VR meeting spaces, complete with avatars and scenery. What the so-called metaverse is proposing to do is bring all of this together under one digital umbrella, and the bandwagon is rolling.

What’s the Meta with Facebook?

If there was any concern that the metaverse would just be a flash in the pan, Facebook has recently announced that it plans to invest $50 million into its development. Actually, that’s not quite a true statement. The organisation formerly known as Facebook, recently announced that it plans to invest $50 million into its development. Facebook is now Meta.

If the near-term future is going to involve something akin to Ready Player One or The Matrix, network operators need to be prepared. If there’s one thing you can say about the Matrix, it’s that Neo probably used a great deal of bandwidth. While it may sound trite, the metaverse will quite literally blur the line between our shared reality and the digital world. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, stream-sharing became quite a common way to watch movies with people remotely.

Buckle up for bandwidth

In the metaverse, you and your friends’ avatars will quite literally be able to go to the movies, sharing the same digital environment. The same goes for gaming, working, socializing, and just about anything else you can conceive of. If, during the early stages of the pandemic, an all-time traffic peak of 9.1 terabits per second was recorded, what will the metaverse bring?

The answer is pressure. Pressure in the form of massively increased global traffic including mobile. Pressure in the form of not enough bandwidth. Pressure in terms of security and encryption. And that’s only scratching the surface of what mobile network operators are going to be up against, this decade.

However, instead of simply putting out more deck chairs to accommodate this pressure in the form of additional infrastructure and hardware, operators are beginning to realize the value in optimizing what they already have. With the right traffic management solutions in place, including acceleration at the TCP layer, and being able to finetune Quality of Experience (QoE) at the level of individual users, operators can streamline traffic – even encrypted traffic from OTTs – easing the burden on networks and preserving the quality of the customer experience. And solutions available today from Enea leverage machine learning algorithms to boost QoE.

Boosting subscriber quality

Based on Enea’s proprietary algorithms, Session Congestion Manager (SCM) is an industry first. It can dynamically boost 4G and 5G subscriber QoE for each individual user session. What makes this truly significant is that it can do this BEFORE subscribers experience poor quality. SCM reduces the number of congested cells by 15% and creates additional Radio Access Network (RAN) capacity to deliver 25% more video – without mobile operators having to invest in new infrastructure.

Enea also has solutions to help mitigate the adverse impact of encryption. Our solutions identify and label encrypted traffic flows, from TCP and TLS through to HTTPS and QUIC, in real-time. In turn, this allows operators to intelligently adjust the bitrate of encrypted video to reduce impact at the RAN level by as much 20%.

These types of cutting-edge video management solutions can preserve the quality of experience for subscribers in real-time. It is a marker for the kind of lateral thinking that’s going to be required as we venture forth into the metaverse. Are you ready?