5G and the Metaverse: Powering the New Social Connections

5G and the Metaverse

Despite multiple tech giants working on it, the metaverse has yet to arrive in all its virtual glory. In addition, the fifth generation of mobile networks (5G) has yet to be adequately adopted worldwide due to the public being satisfied and content with 4G. But once the metaverse is deployed, 5G adoption will skyrocket as it is highly compatible with the virtual world’s needs. This compatibility will set back the development and subsequent implementation of 6G.

Needs Met: Smooth Sailing

Beyond connectivity, numerous features and requirements must be addressed, such as universal access, usable XR devices, edge-cloud capabilities, pertinent standards, and developer community friendliness. So, let’s talk about it.

Universal Access

Nowadays, there are several options for wireless connectivity, among which are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi-, and cellular technologies. The first option presents issues in range, rate, and reliability. The second one offers the needed rate but suffers from congestion. Therefore, the user experiences high latencies once numerous XR devices are simultaneously connected. Despite Wi-Fi 7 promising to address this issue, it is far from cellular technologies’ range and global coverage. In contrast, 5G accords rate, range, reliability, latency, and more.

  • Average DL/UL Data Rates: 200Mbps/30Mbps per user.
  • Achievable Latencies: 10ms for the frequency range 1 (FR1, i.e., below 6GHz) and 5ms for FR2 (above 24GHz, i.e., mm-wave bands).
  • Reliability: 99.99 percent, with five to six nines achievable over the coming years.

Lightweight and Accessible XR Devices

“Extended reality” refers to all connected real and virtual worlds, relationships, and intelligent devices (e.g., virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality). Through 5G networks, the technology uses blockchain databases to track and manage user activity within XR environments providing a customized and more realistic approach. Furthermore, these networks can provide a high percentage of frame reliability. As a result, the devices and applications used for XR are reliable on the tethered connections. In addition, 5G renders good-quality images at high speeds. It can provide a 50-100 Mbps bandwidth network, enabling smooth data transfer.

Edge-cloud Support

The modern edge-cloud support technology is critical for scaling XR. As a result, these devices become economically affordable, lightweight yet powerful, and connected with good battery life, thus enabling the metaverse. One of the main challenges with edge cloud is determining how much one can realistically offload to the edge while maintaining the application KPIs. Furthermore, this challenge must be handled while providing an acceptable Quality of Experience (QoE) to end users, whether they are consumers playing games or enterprise users developing the next complex product in that virtual world.

Standards and Standardized Interfaces

In the tech world, standards refer to technical publications ensuring the reliability of materials, products, methods, and services. As a result, they set the technical requirements, specifications, guidelines, characteristics, and procedures designed. Unless adopted as a code or regulation, these documents are not legally mandatory.

That said, standards and standardized interfaces ensure interoperability within this increasingly complex ecosystem. In other words, they allow users to hold a consistent digital identity and carry it in-between virtual worlds. It is insufficient to run the metaverse on a widely used blockchain operating system like Ethereum. Interoperability is necessary between blockchain families, real-world and virtual environments, and other critical metaverse-supporting technologies like haptic devices. A 5G system’s low latency delivers haptic feedback related to vibrations, temperature, texture, or electronic stimulus (i.e., vibrotactile, shear, thermal, and pneumatic senses).

Easy Developer Access

It’s crucial to ensure that sizable content developer communities can quickly incorporate cutting-edge XR features into consumer and business applications. The developer community must have access to 5G-native APIs, and ideally, these APIs should be integrated into the SDKs of particular platforms. These APIs will assist developers in enhancing the usability of their XR applications.

Telco-led Initiative

The metaverse relies heavily on 5G, which might delay the research and development into 6G. Nevertheless, almost a dozen telcos out there are hellbent on giving their best to make the metaverse a functioning reality sooner rather than later.

SK Telecom

The South Korean telco, SK Telecom, launched its metaverse platform Ifland in July 2021. The developers built this platform for the 5G era focusing on services such as ‘Social VR’ and ‘Virtual Meet-ups.’ This domain had more than 1.1 million monthly active users (MAU) by the end of 2021. Reaching this number was impressive, given that the company had only launched the platform six months prior. The technology was so successful that the average time spent on the platform in January 2022 nearly doubled, 61 minutes compared to 26 minutes in its first month.

Deutsche Telekom

The German telco, Deutsche Telekom, decided to bring SK Telecom’s metaverse platform to Europe. The two powerful telecom companies allied in 2022, co-creating virtual content for the European market. The test run will reportedly include creating a virtual space within Ifland modeled after a specific German city. If initial tests prove successful, DT and SKT will consider setting up a metaverse joint venture to expand the platform’s reach throughout Europe. The two companies have been discussing the European launch of Ifland since March 2022.


The Emirati telecom giant, e&, formerly Etisalat, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SK Telecom. This joint venture promotes a metaverse project in the Middle East, including major nations where e& offers telco services, like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This collaboration might involve creating a city or structure representing the UAE as a virtual location within the metaverse or creating and providing exclusive digital costumes and avatars representing Middle Eastern culture. The two businesses intend to examine the experiences and usage patterns of e&’s customers to determine whether or not their metaverse service is marketable.


In March 2022, the African telco MTN announced that it was buying 144 virtual land plots on Africarare, a virtual reality metaverse that had launched in October 2021. The first virtual reality metaverse in Africa is Africarare. It stated that it intended to grow its customer base through web 3.0 and that the investment was a part of its commitment to supporting new African innovations. This statement aligns with MTN’s Ambition 2025 strategy, which takes advantage of trends enhancing consumer engagement and digital experiences. MTN hopes to attract more customers through its presence in the metaverse by combining various experiences with people’s favorite pastimes, such as gaming and music.

Final Thoughts

Public opinion in such cases agrees that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Through this proverb, one can see why the proper adoption of 5G has taken a backseat in most regions of the world: 4G is getting the job done, so there is no need for the newer generation for now. Nevertheless, the metaverse’s dependency on all the nifty perks of 5G to run means an urgency for it to be up in the running in the not-so-distant future. Consequently, just like 4G delayed 5G due to its mass usefulness, 6G is experiencing the same as experts try to perfect the 5th generation so the metaverse can fulfill its promise to the absolute best of its virtual abilities.

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