We're getting close to the edge, but who's going to be paying who?
- We’re told that the operator edge is going to play a huge part in 5G
- It will be instrumental in enabling those low latency services that will make the entire 5G adventure pay off
- But there is much work to do and argument to be had before it gets off the ground
The just announced GSMA Cloud AR/VR Forum is to focus on the development of cloud virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. The GSMA expects the 5G network operators to play a large part in delivering these much anticipated ‘immersive experiences’ as part of the next generation network services.
But as the GSMA acknowledges, there are many unanswered questions. Yes, technology questions are in there:
“We need to work towards open ecosystems providing common interfaces across the end to end value chain in order to scale cloud AR/VR services fast across different markets,” says Arash Ashouriha, SVP, Group Technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG and Chairman of GSMA Future Networks Programme.
But these are technical details. What about the big ‘who does what, who gets paid and how much?’ questions? The business model questions?
For instance once these edge cloud facilities are established, how will they be managed? Will each operator build its own edge or will they collaborate and share facilities (as they currently share towers). Might it not be better to have third party operators providing the neutral cloud infrastructure at the edge. How will fixed broadband access be incorporated?
Where might the principles governing net neutrality impinge on the structure? What about open access to cloud facilities where cloud or content distribution network players could be granted what might amount to unbundling access to ensure fair play.
After all, if the low latency edge is as game changing as claimed, there are bound to be huge questions around discrimination and fair shares.
Yes, lots of argument to come.
Read the GSMA press release below
GSMA launches new industry-wide initiative to support development of operator edge cloud AR/VR
Multiple Operators, Vendors and Content Providers to Collaborate to Accelerate Deployment of Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Technology
London : The GSMA today announced the launch of a new industry-wide initiative called The GSMA Cloud AR/VR Forum that will focus on the development of cloud virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. The programme which was unveiled at Huawei’s 9th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, is backed by mobile operators including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KT Corp., NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Telenor, TIM, Turkcell and Vodafone, as well as other industry partners including Huawei and HTC. The programme aims to encourage all parties to collaborate on accelerating the delivery and deployment of 5G cloud-based AR/VR services.
“Both VR and AR are disruptive forms of immersive multimedia that, combined with operator edge cloud and 5G connectivity, will transform the cost structures of the enterprise and entertainment fields,” commented Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “Mobile operators will play a key role in its development, but without a common approach and industry-wide collaboration we risk fragmenting the market from the beginning. The establishment of this forum will overcome this hurdle and ensure we can scale compelling solutions faster.”
The new forum aims to encourage knowledge sharing between members, as well as discussion about new business models including the development of a service reference architecture to avoid cost fragmentation. It will also focus on technical development areas including research into ultra-low latency codec compression, graphics processing unit (GPU) rendering in the cloud and virtualisation technologies, as well as the development of simplified interfaces so that developers can easily deploy services.
“The convergence of 5G networks and clouds will enable mass market adoption of immersive experiences like AR and VR. Utilizing scalable computing power at the network edge allows for unprecedented immersive and pervasive customer experience while leveraging cloud economics. Hence, we need to work towards open ecosystems providing common interfaces across the end to end value chain in order to scale cloud AR/VR services fast across different markets. With this approach we will unleash the full potential of 5G,” commented Arash Ashouriha, SVP, Group Technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG and Chairman of GSMA Future Networks Programme.
AR/VR headsets require a large amount of storage, power consumption and processing power that is currently provided by a PC or gaming device. This makes the headsets expensive and limits their portability, which in turn inhibits their potential as a mass market product. By moving these capabilities to an edge cloud platform away from the PC, it will mean that consumers will just need to purchase the headset making them cheaper and more widely available over time. Cloud AR/VR technology also requires an incredibly fast, low latency bandwidth data connection in order to deliver an ultra-high resolution 4K or 8K viewing experience. 5G will be able to deliver this via its new network capabilities as well as a more reliable experience through edge cloud, which opens up ultra low latency services.
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