#MWC2022: The Metaverse – "We've Gone From Scrolling to Strolling"

During a session at 2022’s MWC Barcelona on the theme of 5G Connectivity, titled Welcome to Simplicity: One Place for Many a Metaverse, experts examined the fifth-generation technology’s role in delivering the metaverse.

The session began with Anand Mahindra, chairman of Tech Mahindra, unveiling a virtual city to demonstrate the “what” and “how” of Web 3.0 platforms powered through next-gen networks, digital engineering and experiences.

Cognizant of its intense promulgation in recent months, the “big question is whether the metaverse is hype or whether it is real,” commented Mahindra. “The metaverse is clearly the next big leap in building a programmable world where time and space can be reorganized.”

The session switched to the role 5G can play in providing the required connectivity to simulate the real world. Manisha Mangal, global business head of 5G and network services at Tech Mahindra, interviewed Marc Rouanne, chief network officer, EVP, at Dish Network. Unlike 4G and its limitations, “5G was designed to deliver the metaverse experience,” remarked Rouanne, who explained why 5G exists as the baselines for starting the metaverse.

With many calling the metaverse “the next big shift within the internet,” there are sizeable challenges around rolling out the metaverse at scale. Rouanne highlighted the sheer amount of data needed for the metaverse to be deployed at scale and the abundance of software and hardware required. “In other words, we need to think big and use automation,” explained Rouanne.  

An overarching theme of the session was that understanding the challenges begins with a necessary understanding of the building blocks of the metaverse. This was explored by Amal Hamioui, a test engineer at Tech Mahindra, who listed devices, infrastructure, data and cloud as central constituents of the metaverse.

Security is also flagged as a central constituent of the metaverse, with experts considering the metaverse a "security and privacy minefield," partly due to the sheer scale of the soon-to-be-realized virtual worlds.

Many have depicted the introduction of the metaverse as resembling an innovative “curve,” remarked Aparna Khurjekar, the president of business markets at Verizon. “The internet’s s-curve sees the original static internet shift to the social internet and now to the spatial internet,” commented Khurjekar. “We’ve gone from scrolling to strolling.”

The vast amount of possibilities means that the metaverse needs to be taken seriously, emphasized Khurjekar. “People will be able to buy properties, attend work meetings and even purchase Gucci bags.” Consequently, the metaverse is likely to see sizeable changes to business behaviors, stressed Khurjekar. “This is all enabled by 5G, also called connectivity on steroids, and it will bind together a metaverse that requires interoperability, synchronicity, persistence and accessibility.”

Lastly, Khurjekar emphasized the benefits the metaverse will provide small and medium businesses since it will be much easier to get people to walk into your [digital] store. “The metaverse will be one of the most important innovations in the e-commerce and retail sectors.”

The session was concluded with a short talk by Manish Vyas, president of communications, media and entertainment at Tech Mahindra. He argued that decoding the metaverse universe in a 5G-dominated world would be a priority for the CSPs to stay ahead of the curve. “CSPs can make use of this golden opportunity by utilizing 5G” to offer a novel platform-based service offering.

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