A Look Back at CES 2023 and Forward to MWC – The Rise of the Metaverse

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The start of January means three things: Back to work after a couple of weeks of over-indulgence, a realisation that MWC is going to be here sooner than you think, and also CES with its reports of the latest and greatest gadgets and tech.

Some of the main tech on display at CES 2023 covered innovations in foldable displays, digital health, the automotive industry, AI, and the metaverse. Originally billed as the Consumer Electronics Show, CES is no longer just about consumer gadgets and tech. With regards to the metaverse, plenty of companies were promoting VR headsets and content for consumer-based gaming. However, others were promoting enterprise metaverse applications that don’t need a VR headset. Companies were showing virtualized 3D spaces accessible from PCs, tablets, and smartphones using AR (augmented reality). Described as a subset of the metaverse, AR can allow many enterprise applications, such as 3D product modelling or training from multiple locations.

The Metaverse and 5G

CES is owned and organised by the Consumer Technology Association, whose VP of Research, Steve Koenig, said at CES 2023 “an enabling technology for AR will be 5G Advanced, the second chapter of 5G wireless technology.” He continued “The advanced versions of 5G will unlock more capabilities in areas like data capacity and latency. That should fuel industrial Internet of Things applications he said. 5G Advanced also will include protocols for XR (extended reality) applications”.

From a telecoms point of view, it’s good to see the organisers of CES acknowledge the importance that 5G will have on extended reality applications. These cover virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality applications and use cases. The metaverse has been described as an ecosystem revolving around XR.

5G Advanced is based on release 18 of 3GPP 5G standards and is expected to be released in early 2024. Which isn’t far away. And neither is February and MWC. One of the key themes that the GSMA is promoting at this year’s MWC is Reality+. I suspect we will see a lot of metaverse applications being delivered over 5G SA networks promoted at MWC.

With 5G being set to play a central role in the immersive experiences and the metaverse, there is an obvious question to be asked – how can CSPs monetize the metaverse beyond providing connectivity? Are we in danger of history repeating itself as it did with 4G where CSPs watched as content providers and app-based businesses generated huge revenues by delivering services over mobile networks? At the same time, CSPs were seeing increased demand for data usage, which required investment to meet this demand, while watching ARPUs fall as data connectivity became commoditised. The problem with 4G is that it is best-effort connectivity. 5G SA enables CSPs to sell experience and assurance via network slicing with performance SLAs. This is the start of moving beyond connectivity for CSPs in the metaverse. By extending new 5G business models and being nimble in engaging partner ecosystems, there are many ideas for how CSPs can develop new metaverse-based revenues.

To find out more, download the latest Qvantel white paper – How CSPs Can Monetize the Metaverse.


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Jukka Heiska



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