Just when it seemed like there wasn’t any terminology left to add to the wireless arena, “metaverse” entered the fold, Fierce Wireless and other news outlets report. The term, derived from “meta” (beyond) and “verse” (universe), is a digital reality where people can interact, communicate, play games in more in three dimensions, according to Forbes. Gaming was the first industry to build metaverse environments, but the COVID-19 pandemic led entertainers to use the metaverse as a way to engage with their fans.
Wireless carriers and the metaverse
Any technological advancement that requires efficient wireless connectivity will draw carriers’ attention. In the case of the metaverse, wireless operators will have an opportunity to monetize their 5G investments. Metaverse participants can use AR (augmented reality) headsets or glasses with super-fast 5G. Going forward, the metaverse could enhance experiences like online shopping where people feel like they are at the physical location.
Verizon is currently looking at metaverse opportunities, Fierce Wireless reports. The carrier has 5G labs in six cities where companies can work on enterprise and customer use cases for 5G.
A Verizon spokesperson said, “The purpose is to provide access to our 5G service and our edge cloud computing service (developed with AWS and Microsoft) to various partners in a variety of industries and support them as we build “killer apps” for consumers and businesses that run on 5G,” a Verizon spokesperson said.
The carrier is no stranger to the metaverse. Verizon offered a virtual 5G stadium in Fortnite Creative during last season’s Super Bowl to display its Ultra Wideband 5G network. Fans got to interact with NFL players through games.
T-Mobile meanwhile announced it March that its 5G network is powering companies like Taqtile, which is building AR solutions for frontline workers. Timberline Communications, Inc., a communications infrastructure company, used Taqtile’s AR solution on T-Mobile 5G to perform cell site upgrades and maintenance on the carrier’s networks. Technicians used AR headsets to view virtual service checklists and troubleshoot with remote assistance.
“AR solutions such as this enable frontline workers to improve their skills and perform complex tasks from anywhere exploring objects such as machinery in 3D from all angles,” T-Mobile said in a release.
T-Mobile also expressed interest in using its 5G network for holographic telepresence—to use for real-time holographic video calls on a user’s mobile device any time at any location.
“With holographic video calls we’ll have a more natural, intuitive way to communicate with 3D images enabling us to better experience physical presence,” the carrier said.
Could the metaverse replace videoconferencing?
In July, South Korean wireless telecommunications operator SK Telecom launched Ifland, a metaverse platform that offers virtual meeting spaces, Fierce Wireless reports. Metaverse rooms can be opened with an app. Users then pick from a menu of 18 types of virtual spaces like conference halls and outdoor stages. Once a virtual space is picked, the user can decorate the room as they wish and select a virtual avatar with personalized outfits, hairstyles and more. Ifland virtual rooms can hold up to 130 participants and SK Telecom plans to increase that number as time goes on.
“Armed with powerful contents and social features that meet the needs and interests of the MZ Generation, Ifland is set to fully support users’ Metaverse life,” Jeon Jin-soo, President of Metaverse CO at SKT said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Facebook also recently announced its foray into the metaverse with its test launch of a VR (virtual reality) remote work app Horizon Workrooms, Reuters reports. The company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets allow workers to have meetings as avatar versions of themselves. Facebook views its most recent launch as an initial step towards creating the futuristic metaverse that Chief Executive Office Mark Zuckerberg has discussed in recent weeks.
Additionally, Andrew Bosworth, Facebooks Reality Labs group Vice President, noted the company’s Workrooms app provides “a good sense” of how it envisions metaverse elements.
“This is kind of one of those foundational steps in that direction,” Bosworth told reporters during a VR news conference.
Joe Dyton can be reached at email@example.com.