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March 1, 2023

Beyond 5G: how telcos can lead in the metaverse

Here are five ways telcos can establish themselves as pivotal metaverse co-creators and not just participants.

The challenges and opportunities of the metaverse are nothing new for telecommunications companies. Along with Big Tech, telcos were among the first to begin experimenting with this emerging virtual world.

But while the metaverse offers substantial economic and strategic benefits to telcos that actively participate in it, their explorations need to go beyond technological proofs of concept. Metaverse success will require telcos to reconsider many aspects of their current operations, from business models to the technology stack and the emerging technologies required to deliver breakthrough experiences.

By using technologies like 5G, edge cloud, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), telecom operators can break out of the role of pipe supplier and create a path to becoming co-creators of the metaverse, alongside technology behemoths and online game producers.

Five ways for telcos to be metaverse leaders

Here are five strategies that telcos can adopt to play a central role in the evolution of the metaverse and deliver on its promise.

  1. Become the primary connectivity provider with 5G and beyond

    Connectivity is fundamental to the growth of the metaverse and the expansion of virtual worlds. But it’s 5G services that will provide the needed throughput speeds of several gigabits per second, extremely low latency, increased stability and consistent user experience that the metaverse requires. With 5G networks, telcos can assist customers and companies in entering the metaverse once they are commercially deployed.

    As we get closer to 2030, the telecom sector anticipates another generational leap in wireless technology, to 6G. The increased data transmission speeds and decreased latency of 6G will give the metaverse even more traction.

    Furthermore, the high-bandwidth speeds of fiber connectivity will be a driving force behind the growth of the metaverse. In the future, WiFi 6—the most recent generation of WiFi—will help alleviate network capacity issues by offloading wireless traffic.

  2. Create new revenue streams with advanced analytics and AI capabilities

    Businesses in the metaverse will need to figure out how to collect, store and repurpose the massive amounts of data that the virtual world will require. Compared with other companies, telcos have historically had more access to big data insights due to their need to extract insights from call data records. When it comes to repurposing data to enhance decision-making and develop new demand scenarios, telcos will benefit greatly in the metaverse.

    Within the metaverse, telecom operators will continue to own a large amount of product, customer and asset data. Combined with their retail and distribution experience, these insights will enable telcos to offer a range of customer and operations-related information. Telecom operators should, therefore, devote special attention to developing the appropriate analytics and AI capabilities and defining possible revenue streams.

  3. Offer edge computing services to meet ever-increasing processing needs

    When millions of users are participating in continuous, real-time virtual experiences, the cloud isn’t the only platform to consolidate and store all the necessary resources. As the metaverse spurs increased processing requirements, edge computing will be a particularly essential element.

    Data will need to be distributed and made accessible closer to the point of consumption due to latency limitations. As a result, operators are in a great position to offer edge computing services, unlocking the potential for more effective data transport, stronger perimeter security, minimized network congestion and diversified revenue streams.

    To succeed with edge services, operators need to ensure they have the necessary agreements in place with specialized cloud providers, and link their edge cloud strategy with their legacy cloud initiatives.

  4. Become ecosystem orchestration leaders

    Operators should create new collaborative frameworks as they continue to expand their metaverse partnerships to spur growth. This will require closer ties with various members of the metaverse ecosystem.

    In particular, telcos should focus their interactions with technology platform providers and device makers on the long-term potential provided by virtual and augmented reality.

  5. Develop metaverse platforms

    For businesses creating their own metaverse platforms, success depends on attracting as many users as possible. A key way to do this is developing both themed activities and events that encourage regular visitors to stay longer, as well as unique services for both customers and businesses.

    Currently, many disparate platforms and virtual worlds exist. The vision is that these will eventually either converge or be interoperable, creating a seamless metaverse where users can move between platforms and experiences easily. This vision, however, is many years away.

    Operators should be ready to invest in developing metaverse platforms to benefit from this steady evolution. This will help them get a deeper grasp of the technical skills required to influence long-term possibilities.

Telcos have a unique potential to pave new growth paths in the immersive virtual world of the metaverse. Using these five strategies, they can position themselves as co-creators of the metaverse rather than merely participants.

To learn more about deriving metaverse value, visit our Tech to Watch page or read our report, “A pragmatist’s guide to the metaverse.”

Cognizant Insights Team

We’re here to offer you practical and unique solutions to today’s most pressing technology challenges. Across industries and markets, get inspired today for success tomorrow.

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