The Metaverse and extended realities (XR) present tremendous opportunities to advance remote work by boosting collaboration and improve training, a top AT&T Inc official says.
AT&T is the world’s largest multinational telecommunications holding company by revenue and the third largest provider of mobile telephone services in the U.S.
Building networks for the metaverse
Speaking on the sidelines of the Immerse Global Summit (IGS) 2022 in Miami this week, VP Andrew Bennet said his company was building what he described as “stable, reliable, and future-proof networks” for the growing spatial communications platform.
“To continue leading as a connectivity provider, it’s important to ‘spread the chips across the board’ and explore multiple use cases,” Bennet said to XR Today. “We understand that different groups are exploring the Metaverse in their own ways and make sure we take a similar strategy.”
“This takes place across the players today, all the way up to the Metas of the world, while considering how our networks will support the growth,” Bennet added.
Bennett said this was a critical step to take because “the killer use case” could be “months or a year away, or even right under our noses.”
Metaverse experienced groundswells
He said Covid 19 had forced a number of people to relocate from cities to the suburbs, forcing the company to review its “current and future infrastructure as customers changed their usage patterns.”
“The Metaverse experienced similar groundswells, but it will eventually hit that ‘hockey stick’ [of market maturity],” he said.
He added that it was important to prepare for what he said were “inflexion point events” especially after COVID-19 revolutionized how people work.
With its faster speeds and lower latency, 5G can enable real-time rendering of complex 3D environments, allowing users to move smoothly and seamlessly within the virtual world. This could be used for a wide range of applications, from gaming and entertainment to education and training.
Remote work has taken root
Post the global pandemic, remote work has taken root and is still the order of the day in most organizations.
“The Metaverse and XR have tremendous opportunities to advance remote work by boosting collaboration and improving training,” Bennet added.
“One of the panelists from earlier today mentioned that remote work and remote learning create additional opportunities to receive immersive classroom experiences outside the classroom.”
In light of this, he said his group would consider all “use cases and the ever-changing circumstances across the world.”
With its increased capacity, 5G networks can also handle a greater number of connections, making it possible for more people to access the metaverse at the same time without experiencing delays or other performance issues.
This could be especially important for large-scale events, such as concerts or conferences, where many people may be trying to access the virtual space simultaneously.
Latency is key
“The Metaverse creates immersive experiences we once could not imagine, such as meeting in a shared virtual conference room. Now, I can put on my VR glasses for a couple of hours and get the same experience as if I was there in person,” he said.
“For XR applications, latency is key as many XR applications are not hugely bandwidth intensive.”
This is important to reduce motion sickness, enhance gameplay, and boost reaction times for remote working.
Although 5G first went live back in 2018, Bennet insists the technology is still in its early stages. “We’re currently deploying mid-band networks and 5G still has a ton of runway,” Bennet said.