What is Metaverse?
In this blog we explore Metaverse in 5G, the impact it will have on use cases, and how we can ensure it delivers the required service experiences to consumers and enterprises in the future.
What is Metaverse? It has been described as a 3D version of the Internet, where you spend your digital life, in parallel with the physical world. You can shop, play, work and socialize as you do in the physical world, but in a world that can immediately extend or replicate the physical world for a particular experience.
It appears that in the near term the significant drivers for Metaverse will be Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). We will refer to all three as Extended Reality (XR). XR can not only enhance the gaming experience and social networking but can have a significant business impact in industries such as education, manufacturing, and healthcare.
Retailers are also rolling out various programs to improve the buying experience for customers with virtual dressing rooms, visual and auditory retail marketing. Manufacturers are embracing XR technologies to get things done right the first time through techniques such as Digital Twinning and AR aided manufacturing.
Metaverse and 5G
Prior to divestiture in 1984, the focus for communications was based on connectivity and making sure you could draw a dial tone. Obviously, the technological leaps after 1984 and into internet 1.0, were remarkable. Increased bandwidth from fiber optics and new generations of mobile technology delivered by innovative wireless pioneers have continued to evolve and carry us for the past 40 years. The dial up rates for Web 1.0 started at 9.6 Kbps and moved to 56 Kbps. Data rates are now projected with 5G to exceed an average of 100 Mbps per user for mobile, with bursts reaching 10 Gbps.
In 5G, basic connectivity is now augmented with other critical service capabilities including extreme bandwidth, low latency, range, reliability, and density of users. This has enabled the concept and capabilities of Metaverse to begin to be realized on a large scale.
Metaverse will require high throughput, high reliability, and bounded latency networks to realize its full potential. The bandwidth requirements for VR and AR range from 25 Mbps to 1-2 Gbps for a fully immersive retinal mobile experience. We will assume we can always acquire the bandwidth or throughput, so let us focus on high reliability and the low latency requirements of XR.
A GSMA study lists the differences between different XR interactions: Weak interactions (broadcast) require a very generous envelope of end-to-end latency in range of 10 – 20s; Moderate interactions (XR video conference) require 200 ms; Strong interactions (online gaming or interactive sports games) get best results with less than 20 ms delay.
With moderate and certainly with strong interactions, it is a tight tolerance window. Missing this window can impact the Quality of Experience (QoE) and consequently have a direct impact on businesses applying the technology from gaming to manufacturing.
Critical Network Visibility Requirements
Prior to divestiture in 1984, the focus for communications was based on connectivity and making sure you could draw a dial tone. Obviously, the technological leaps after 1984
What is needed is a holistic visibility suite that combines the best attributes of Network Performance Management (NPM), Application Performance Management (APM), and Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM). It must ingest streaming network data augmented at times with Machine Learning to ensure the extreme Metaverse network experience and device performance KPIs are met.
How do you make sure the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are met overall performance, including latency, end-to-end network reliability and application performance? First, you need metrics for each flow in the network. A Network Flow is the communications (packets) between two endpoints that are defined by the opening and closing of the session, i.e., the service or application. This could be voice, video, gaming, AR/VR applications, any flow of packets. Then it is important to gather as much information about that flow as possible to determine if there are error conditions and/or other anomalies.
- Continuous calculation of KPIs to ensure latency tolerances and network performance demands are met for each Metaverse session. To calculate the User Experience for each session a summary of the packets must be obtained. This can be done cost effectively by strategically placing sensors in the network to create these profiles of the network flow for each session.
- This summary data also contains indications of network anomalies encountered such as congestion, fragmentation, out-of-order packets, retransmissions, jitter, excessive application latency, and/or network latency.
There are companies that use Synthetic methods to simulate what a User or device is experiencing, but there is no better way to know what they experience than through the evaluation of the packets. We like to say, “every packet tells a story”.
Previously, a combination of traditional Netflow and Packet Capture were used to provide the most holistic view of the network experience. The recommended ratio was 80% Netflow and 20% Packet Capture. This was expensive and did not provide the coverage needed for security or advanced performance metrics.
Netflow is effective typically for usage, usage by user, traffic to application etc. but it is typically sampled and does not provide error conditions encountered in the flow of traffic or jitter and latency metrics. This is the advantage of a solution like Cirries DART, which collects each packet and builds a metadata representation of the entire flow between two endpoints, providing all the critical data needed to understand the precise Quality of Experience of the User or device.
This solution is ideal for monitoring traffic in virtualized or cloud environments.
Metaverse is becoming a reality and its initial demands are being met with the introduction of 5G technology. To fully realize the capabilities and potential of Metaverse and what it can deliver to industries and users, there will be a premium on the Performance Monitoring of each network flow of a session. Cost effective network flow-based solutions that provide this detail will become the tool of choice for monitoring Metaverse.