Mobile operator Edge is critical to Facebook’s “Meta”

November 8th, 2021

Headshot for Kumar Thangamuthu

Kumar Thangamuthu

Director of Product Marketing

“Meta”, the newly launched “brand of brands” consisting of Facebook/WhatsApp/OculusVR, has an ambitious goal: to have globally dispersed friends interact with each other, and their shared virtual environment, in a completely natural manner . While other innovative technology firms had been investing in building Immersive Reality (XR) enabling technologies for several years, the race for “metaverse” dominance will certainly grow more intense given Meta’s vast resources and billions of Facebook users ready to take their social interactions to a new, virtual dimension. But this migration of social networks to new virtual worlds will never materialize unless Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) host AR/VR applications.

AR/VR game developers have established that any delays over 25ms between a physical action and its effect in the virtual world will make their users feel clumsy and sluggish and none too eager for a return visit. A significant part of potential delay would be the limited onboard computing power of end user devices (e.g. Head Mounted Displays “HMD” , smartphones) available for computationally intensive tasks . These potential device side processing bottlenecks have been mitigated by technology innovators who have built solutions for services consumed by all AR/VR applications :

  • Remote Rendering: Leveraging cloud based GPU accelerated servers to provide remote, low latency rendering to constrained devices. Our partner Holo-Light is a leader in this space.

  • Multi-Player Streaming: Low latency streaming infrastructure for multi-player games. Our partner QuarkXR is a leader in this space.

  • Visual Positioning Systems (VPS) Service: Leveraging camera data to situate the user within a frame of reference. Our partner Sturfee is a leader in this space.

While the AR/VR technology core solution providers described above continue to reduce as much latency as they can, there is a limit to what they can accomplish using “Over the Top” technologies. AR/VR service users expect consistent performance wherever they are within an operator’s coverage area and today Quality of Experience can vary tremendously outside of larger population centers where MNOs have situated their 4G and 5G data gateways (e.g. S-GW, UPF) and hyper-scalers typically deploy “zones”. MNOs can differentiate their XR user experience by :

  1. Deploying a 5G “user plane” traffic management system that can assign a mobile device to the closest 5G UPF and appropriate network slice based on requested Quality of Service and location. Selecting a 5G supplier (e.g. our partner Mavenir) that is validating the performance of their UPF in an edge cloud environment.

  2. Reducing the number of network hops by hosting the XR enabling services (e.g. Cloud XR, Remote Rendering, Multiplayer Streaming, VPS) or finished application backend on a cloud within the operator network, ideally in the same unified cloud environment used to deliver internal network services (e.g. 5G UPF)

MobiledgeX is particularly excited by the Facebook “Meta” announcement as it provides further market validation of our early recognition of the need to provide a unified edge cloud layer for hosting latency sensitive internal (e.g. 5G UPF) and external workloads (e.g. remote rendering, multi-player streaming, VPS) that maximizes MNO share of XR service spending