LIVE FROM FYUZ22, MADRID: Operators including Vodafone Spain, Telefonica and Comcast indicated a desire to ensure the metaverse pays off, avoiding past mistakes which saw service providers largely relegated to being connectivity pipes.

During the Metaverse Connectivity Summit, Vodafone head of new business Marta de Pablos Alvaro explained there must be a clear return on investment for operators in providing the connectivity all speakers across the three-day Fyuz event agreed would be essential to provide metaverse services.

She noted operators had delivered the connectivity which powered the rise of mobile apps and services during the 4G era “but we didn’t monetise”.

“I think that was a mistake”.

The Vodafone executive explained operators must take a fresh tack in the next-generation of mobile. “It’s important that telcos know how to monetise their part of the cake, because this is going to accelerate the deployment of edge computing and 5G, which are very expensive and hard to deploy”.

Metaverse prep
Erica Sivertson, executive director of wireless strategy at US cable company Comcast, explained it was preparing its networks for an abundance of new use cases, dedicating specific portions to certain services.

It is preparing for the metaverse by drawing on past experiences: “we think about it in terms of S-curves and what are the different use cases”.

Sivertson noted there were various “points in time where people changed their behaviours” in the past, citing video services and the launch of the first iPhone as examples of shifts which impacted networks and service providers.

“And so we’ve been very proactive in the space in understanding these S-curves”.

She noted no-one is entirely sure what the metaverse is “going to look like and so we have to get that input from application developers, companies like Meta” and others to gain insight into the kind of immersive experiences they expect to provide.

“And we’re starting to see a lot of this, especially with the VR headsets released this and next year”.

Sivertson noted Comcast’s position within a broader international cable operation was opening the door to experimentation including establishing its own content service businesses, potentially aiding efforts to grab a slice of the revenue pie moving forward.

Cayetano Carbajo, director for core, transport and service platforms at Telefonica, said it is taking a similar approach to Comcast in terms of preparing for the metaverse, focusing on testing a broad range of functionalities because it’s “too early to know exactly” what it will have to do to ready its networks.

But he also noted the operator’s current networks are already capable of handling advanced services, with its fibre infrastructure alone passing more than 60 million homes and being used by 20 million subscribers.

He said if Telefonica continues to approach network readiness in the same way “we will be prepared” for the metaverse.

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