The Virtual Reality challenge for telcos

The Virtual Reality challenge for telcos
October 17, 2016  |  BY

If you attended the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, you couldn’t help but notice the endless amount of virtual technology being promoted. The display makes sense. With the way virtual reality (VR) is moving, it’s quickly becoming a major source of content delivery. And just like video was in the not-too-distant past, VR will present opportunities but also hurdles for telcos and content service providers.

Video caused a substantial increase in Internet traffic. VR will increase it again, with its ability to add an exciting shift in how you can experience a football game, a concert, a vacation and other events.

But the added dimension that VR brings to consumers will also put a heavy load on telecom networks. Fortunately, telecoms have anticipated the network strain by investing to expand their networks data capacity. The hope is that everything will go smoothly so VR content gets delivered to consumers as they expect, with clear connections and zero buffering.

Even though VR is new to telecoms, the challenge comes down to the same thing it always does: having enough bandwidth. Consider that for VR to work as designed, the network needs approximately seven times the bandwidth as required for HDTV. The problem doesn’t necessarily lie with the telecoms; they generally have the right technology to deliver the VR content.

The issue is with the average consumer’s technology, which isn’t often rich enough and doesn’t enable quality VR streaming. Unfortunately, at least at the present moment, consumers will have to buffer the content or store it on a device. To overcome this scenario, telecoms will need to implement solutions such as compression algorithms to meet the coming popularity of VR content.

Demand for VR, of course, will inevitably extend to the mobile world. Once again, current connections can’t supply the right amount of bandwidth, meaning that fiber networks will be relied upon to deliver the high-quality VR experiences we’ve already come to expect.

But ultimately, telecoms have to come to grips with the burden that VR will add to their already complex networks. Their job is to ensure that networks can deliver VR as promised. When that happens, they’ll have new, continuous and perhaps ever-increasing revenue streams.