Operators are banking that virtual reality (VR) solutions will deliver cold hard cash into their revenue streams.
Though the VR market today is relatively small and generally limited to applications such as gaming, training and manufacturing, it could generate $48.5 billion by 2025, estimates Grand View Research. And it will more than double in ten years, hitting $1 trillion by 2035, according to Citi.
As they upgrade networks, service providers and ISPs are considering what role augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality can play in their portfolios. "AR and VR capabilities are optional functions and naturally one potential part of services depending on what kind of solutions are needed and the market is willing to use and pay for," said Mika Railosalo, vice president of regional sales and SME sales in the Corporate Customers unit at Elisa, in an interview. "As we know there is already AR and VR based services in the market for instance in gaming, customer service and in the industrial sector."
Although uses are in their infancy, gamers are expected to represent the vast majority of revenue, generating $45.09 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. They may be playing, but their impact -- and demands -- are serious business; their need for undetectable latency and ultra-broadband speeds parallel the needs of stockbrokers, Kurt Raaflaub, head of Strategic Solutions Marketing at ADTRAN, said in an interview.
"The reliability and quality of a network running virtual reality applications in someone's home is probably just as complex as trying to get a stock trade to come in on time," he said. "Perhaps the only difference between the carrier-class feature and the residential feature is one of them has the ability to pick up the phone and have a live person say, 'Hmm, what's wrong?' Or have a special app that allows them to clearly see some kind of analytics that proves they're clearly getting what they pay for, whereas a residential person doesn't call anyone at all."
We've only just touched the surface of augmented reality and VR via games like Pokémon Go. Once ultra-broadband is more widely available, developers and users will no doubt leverage the bandwidth, executives said.
"From a networking perspective, current adoption is a bit like using your smartphone in airplane mode or maybe akin to the early days of the Internet with dial-up modems," Loudon Blair, senior director of Corporate Strategy at Ciena told UBB2020. "The end-user devices are getting interesting but the available content and required networking infrastructure needed to support a truly immersive experience still need to be built out."
Ultra-broadband: built for VR
That's because VR recreates "every photon your eyes would see, every small vibration your ears would hear and eventually other details like touch, smell and temperature," wrote Bo Begole, vice president and global head of Huawei Technologies’ Media Lab, in Forbes. That can't happen in a high latency, slow -- or even pretty fast -- broadband network.
People process the equivalent of about 5.2 Gbit/s of sound and light, or about 200 times the Federal Communications Commission's requirement for broadband at 25 Mbp/s, Begole added. If operators don't push their networks to at least 10 Gbit/s, the promise of VR will remain unrealized.
Service providers are teeing up for VR through G.fast and NG-PON2, as well as DOCSIS 3.1, CORD, fiber and the cloud.
"As our experience becomes more immersive, services will require higher throughput, increased bandwidth and shorter latency. These demands will encourage the placement of the cloud's storage and computing facilities closer to the end-user in the form of CORD and edge computing," said Blair. "Another important consideration specific to AR/VR is the significant packet-centric bandwidth that is needed in the upstream. A game changer in this space for MSOs is the recent arrival of DOCSIS 3.1. It has ten times the download and upload speeds from DOCSIS 3.0, meaning less delay for time-sensitive applications."
In a flurry of activity throughout the week, Donald (DJ) LaVoy, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture, and his team spent about $145.8 million in the non-urban or suburban areas of seven states.
Calix reported revenue of $120.19 million – up 4% – in Q4 2019, putting a bounce in the step of company president and CEO Carl Russo and a shine to Calix's ongoing transition from hardware vendor to a provider of platforms enabled by cloud, APIs and subscriber experience.
Looking to curtail e-waste and improve the bottom line, BT will require customers to return routers and set-top boxes, although subscribers will not have to pay a fee when they receive regular broadband equipment.
Deploying DOCSIS 3.1 across its entire footprint gave Rogers Communications the ability to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s,
contributing to a broadband segement that generated about 60% of the Canadian operator's $3.05 billion (US) in Q4 cable earnings.
Over the next two years, approximately 60% of service providers (both large and small) will adopt virtualization on a wide scale across their networks, according to the latest survey report from Ovum. Why are providers making these moves? Is there an easy way to start?
Learn how and why service providers are using virtualization to transform their networks. This webinar will look at how providers are leveraging virtualization to create more flexible and agile networks while also providing a better customer experience. Expert speakers from netElastic and Heavy Reading will address the industry drivers for network virtualization, the benefits that can be realized, the challenges to face and the results of virtualization being achieved by providers today.
Key topics will include:
Current network infrastructure and the move to virtualization
Benefits and challenges of network virtualization
How providers can get started
Service provider success stories: the decision to virtualize, the solution, and results