By Piyush Gupta, President, Kestone
Picture this — it is a Saturday, and two friends are shopping at a mall. They are at the cosmetic store and are trying different shades of lipstick. Next, they plan to visit the apparel section and try on something to wear to work.
Nothing unusual here except that one friend is in Toronto, Canada and the other in New Delhi, India. They met on the Metaverse for their Saturday ‘outing’, or rather their avatars met on the Metaverse. Whatever they bought in the virtual world will be delivered to them in physical form at their home. Does this sound like a futuristic dream or a scene out of a sci-fi movie? As technologies become more sophisticated, the future of eCommerce and spending time in the Metaverse is a given in the near future.
And it’s not just shopping or eCommerce that Metaverse stands to disrupt. Almost every sphere of our lives is in line for transformation. From virtual corporate meetings to special-experience classes for school students, from visiting virtual art galleries to banking with AI assisted bots, from partying with friends to gaming with strangers, Metaverse will change the way we work, play, study, entertain ourselves and do everything else. But is India ready for the future? Among the countries with the most Internet users, India occupies second place. According to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)-Kantar data, India has 692 million active Internet users (as of July 2022). From financial inclusion to e-commerce and from education to income-generation opportunities, the impact of Internet usage is immense.
As far as mobile subscriptions are concerned, in the next five years 5G is expected to account for over 40 percent of mobile subscriptions in India, i.e., 500 million by the end of 2027 (‘India’s 5G future: a closer look, Ericsson). 5G will transform it and take internet usage in a different direction. Yes! India is getting ready for the future. There is no doubt that when it comes to immersive experiences, the Metaverse has a lot to offer, especially for a country with the size and opportunities like India. The combination of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) is not just an anticipated experience but is becoming real.
However, all these technologies are data intensive and require excellent communication infrastructure. While hardware is one half of the story in virtual experiences, for a country like India, telecom infrastructure is equally vital. When it comes to telecom infrastructure, India is still young.
The launch of 5G will be a big boost for Metaverse. The most basic thing that 5G promises is high speed internet and low latency. For the Metaverse experience to be smooth and life-like, a robust telecom infrastructure will be the backbone. Even with the most basic Metaverse, data consumption will skyrocket this year. According to Credit Suisse’s Metaverse: A guide to the Next-Gen internet; data usage could easily expand over 20 times by the end of this decade.
Like the Internet transformed businesses, commerce, education, and everything else, Metaverse will transform and disrupt with the help of 5G. And for that, it will need to be taken to every Indian across the country.
For example, currently, a few hundred MBs of data transfer takes place when someone visits the metaverse. Imagine what will happen when thousands visit the Metaverse simultaneously. Fast data speeds mean data delivery in Gigabytes will need to take place. And 5G will not only be required for Metaverse but also for mass usage of blockchain, crypto, NFT, Internet of Things (IoT), etc.
Where to from here?
For Metaverse to deliver on its promise of revolutionizing communication and transforming lives, 5G needs to be accessible and available to everyone. When mobile phones were launched in India in the 1990s, talking on the mobile phone became a symbol of power and privilege. But the same should not happen for 5G and for Metaverse.