Cloud and 5G central to bringing AR and VR to life

30 August 2018

IoT 5G

Network operators have an opportunity to play a key role in bringing Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to life and in doing so to commercialise their 5G offering, according to the GSMA, a global trade body for the mobile industry.

For this reason, 5G in AR/VR was a key topic of discussion last month at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai.

While there is much hope about the potential applications of AR and VR – for everything from tourism and gaming to vehicle navigation and even healthcare – as yet, their use is not mainstream. These technologies currently require huge amounts of storage, energy and processing power, meaning devices are expensive and cumbersome.

Into the cloud

This is changing as computing and data storage increasingly move to the cloud. Soon, AR and VR could follow this trend, minimising the technical strain on the user’s device. This will mean consumer devices can be lighter and cheaper, and therefore much more suitable for the mass market.

Connectivity is, of course, a crucial piece to making this all work. Wide data bandwidths, high-speed data connections and low latency are all required to deliver high video resolution (4K or 8K) and seamless user experience.

All of these features are what 5G is designed for. At the GSMA’s Shanghai event, Huawei’s President of Product and Solutions, David Wang, urged the mobile industry to prioritise the 5G commercialisation opportunities this represents, such as gaming, 360 streaming and Industry 4.0 applications.

Wang noted at the event: “Cloud AR/VR calls for both a 100mbps data rate to support 2K HD videos, and 5-8 ms to avoid dizziness. Such demands are perfectly in line with the features of eMBB services during initial 5G deployment. Huawei, therefore, believes that Cloud AR/VR will arise as the most typical 5G eMBB use case.”

Seizing the opportunity

The GSMA is now developing this further, and is running a Cloud AR/VR roundtable at its Mobile World Congress Americas 2018 event on September 13.

It will also release a whitepaper next year, focused on how operators can monetise the 5G AR/VR opportunity, the value chain, potential business models and how to scale the opportunity. It has created a working group around the topic.

Useful read: What is 5G?

Technical Writer at

Sarah Wray is a technical writer with over 10 years' experience writing about technology, including telecoms, smart cities, data, IoT, aerospace, and more.

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