Network Requirements for Metaverse

I often joked that I didn’t play computer games because I felt like a holodeck. Although it may seem ridiculously far away, we are about to see web-based virtual reality which will be a major step towards a holodeck. There are already awesome virtual reality software and games where a person can immerse themselves in another world using a headset. But it will be a big step in moving virtual reality online where people from anywhere can join in a game together like in the movie Ready Player One. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a 2018 movie about a believable future global gaming phenom.

Meta (formerly Facebook) is investing heavily in building a platform that can house game designers and others to launch VR apps. When Meta first announced that it was going to take on the Metaverse, people assumed that the company was not designing games, but rather the company was taking on the technology that would enable the use of virtual reality. in line.

Meta indicates that some key requirements will be needed to support the metaverse.

  • Fast symmetrical broadband speeds. And they’re not just talking about gigabit bandwidth – faster speeds will be needed to transmit the massive amounts of data needed to create real-time virtual reality worlds.
  • Low latency, less than 10 milliseconds. Well-designed last-mile fiber optic networks today have speeds in this range. But Meta isn’t just talking about the last mile network, but the middle network used to connect users to the cloud. The company says mid-mile carriers will need to step up their game. Some networks are already that fast, but many aren’t.
  • We’re going to need higher resolution video – 4K isn’t enough resolution to convey the pixels needed to create immersive worlds. And that means large data files.
  • With large data files, we’re going to need the next generation of video compression that can compress huge data files in real time, and which can be decompressed without adding delay to the signal.
  • For everything to work together in real time, it will require cooperation in the network between the entities. Some of the traffic optimization today is done by network operators, while content providers do their own optimization. It will take an integrated real-time coordinated network optimization process that includes all parts of the metaverse.
  • Metaverse software must be able to adapt to the user. Although designed for a high-bandwidth, low-latency fiber client, the metaverse system must be able to adapt to local network conditions. We do that in a minor way today when Netflix scales down the video signal to match a user’s bandwidth.
  • What Meta hasn’t done is that we will need ISPs willing to provide the fast two-way traffic needed to make the Metaverse work in homes.

All of this may seem out of reach, but Meta already has the first prototypes of the concepts working in the lab. We are seeing last mile fiber vendors now using XGS-PON which can deliver 10 gigabit symmetric broadband. We’re seeing new mid-mile routes with 300 gigabit pipes reaching smaller and smaller towns.

The metaverse and web-based virtual reality will only become possible when there are enough people in the world connected to a fast fiber optic connection. We’re certainly on that path in the United States with plans for various ISPs to build fiber to serve nearly 50 million more homes over the next few years. Meta envisions a platform where it provides the muscle and tens of thousands of developers independently create metaverse worlds. It’s not quite a holodeck, but I could try.

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DEER VINTON
Co-designer of TCP/IP protocols and Internet architecture


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