GSMA launches initiative to drive operator edge cloud AR/VR development
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The GSMA has today (21 November) announced the launch of The GSMA Cloud AR/VR Forum, which will focus on the development of cloud virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology.

The organisation states that the forum (which was unveiled at Huawei’s 9th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London) is backed by mobile operators including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KT Corp., NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telefónica, Telenor, TIM, Turkcell and Vodafone, as well as other industry partners including Huawei and HTC.

The forum aims to encourage all parties to collaborate on accelerating the delivery and deployment of 5G cloud-based AR/VR services, through knowledge sharing and discussing new business models, including the development of a service reference architecture to avoid cost fragmentation. It will also focus on technical development areas including research into ultra-low latency codec compression, graphics processing unit (GPU) rendering in the cloud and virtualisation technologies, as well as the development of simplified interfaces so that developers can easily deploy services.

“Both VR and AR are disruptive forms of immersive multimedia that, combined with operator edge cloud and 5G connectivity, will transform the cost structures of the enterprise and entertainment fields,” said Alex Sinclair, the GSMA’s chief technology officer. “Mobile operators will play a key role in its development, but without a common approach and industry-wide collaboration we risk fragmenting the market from the beginning. The establishment of this forum will overcome this hurdle and ensure we can scale compelling solutions faster.”

“The convergence of 5G networks and clouds will enable mass market adoption of immersive experiences like AR and VR. [Using] scalable computing power at the network edge allows for unprecedented immersive and pervasive customer experience while leveraging cloud economics. Hence, we need to work towards open ecosystems providing common interfaces across the end to end value chain to scale cloud AR/VR services fast across different markets. With this approach we will unleash the full potential of 5G,” commented Arash Ashouriha, SVP, group technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG and chairman of the GSMA Future Networks Programme.

Part of the thinking behind the forum is that AR and VR require a large amount of storage, power consumption and processing power that is currently provided by a PC or gaming device, making both technologies expensive and limiting their portability. By moving these capabilities to an edge cloud platform, consumers will just need to purchase a headset, making it cheaper and easier to use AR and VR services and applications. The GSMA also notes that cloud AR/VR technology requires an incredibly fast, low latency bandwidth connection to deliver a 4K or 8K viewing experience, which can be achieved with the use of 5G and edge cloud technology.

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