Metaverse is just VR, Meta admits, as it lobbies against ‘arbitrary’ network fees
Meta, the so-called “metaverse company” formerly known as Facebook, has taken on a new role in demystifying the virtual world technology its founder bet the farm on just a few years ago.
No, he hasn’t announced another pivot – instead he’s been forced to cut back on the metaverse’s multicolored hype as he lobbies against a proposal pushed by European mobile network operators who want regional lawmakers to compel major content providers (i.e. tech giants like Meta) to pay them fees to transport their data – a double dip scenario they suggested is needed to fund upgrades to the network infrastructure that they believe is necessary for the metaverse to happen…
Complaints by telecom operators about their (relative) poverty (compared to tech giants) are obviously controversial, but seem to have folded ears in Brussels: in February, EU lawmakers announced an exploratory consultation on the future of funding networks. And, soon after, the bloc’s Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, took to the stage at an annual telecoms industry party – seeming rather sympathetic to their cause. (Although in remarks to the press immediately after that, he maintained that nothing had been decided yet.)
In a blog post calling telcos “false premises”, Kevin Salvadori de Meta, vice president of the network and Bruno Cendon Martin, director and head of wireless technologies, do not mince words – calling the argument of the operators of “nonsense” and the proposed network tax “arbitrary”.
Lobbying by telecoms operators for the proposal suggested that five or six of the biggest content providers would have to pay – putting Meta in the frame, along with other internet giants like Netflix and Alphabet.
“We know that some European telecom operators have justified network fee proposals by speculating on capacity constraints caused by metaverse adoption – but this is nonsense,” write Salvadori and Martin. “The development of the metaverse will not require telecom operators to increase their capital expenditure for greater investment in the network.”
They go on to explain that this is because “metaverse adoption for the foreseeable future will continue to be primarily driven by virtual reality (VR)” – and that “nearly all VR content is currently consumed on fixed networks via Wi-Fi” – an infrastructure they claim is already well established in most of Europe.
“For the future, European fixed network capacity, with easily scalable FTTH/B networks [fiber-to-the-home/building] deployments, is more than enough to meet the demand for the Metaverse and other Internet services for decades to come,” they add, suggesting that there will be no significant difference in product experience between being tethered to a headset in VR (something that’s been around for ooooh donkey years) and being “in the metaverse” for, um, many more donkey years. Oh.
What about AR (augmented reality)? The blog post attempts a bit of “reverse ferreting” about it, to salvage a pinch of metaverse hype, with the Metamates writing, “The immersive worlds we can experience in VR are just one possible way to experience the metaverse. Augmented reality (AR) devices, which overlay digital content onto the real world in a small form factor, will be another important part of the metaverse in the future.
However, they are just as quickly pouring more cold water on the idea that there is significant Mobile Metaverse (AR) action on the horizon. So – tl; dr – you can put away the idea of floating free in any Meta (quasi-colorful) mobile metaverse that mixes immersive virtual worlds with the physicality of being out there for real. (Although, to be fair, it sounds like an unpleasant and confusing nightmare – and moreover, notably, the blog post goes on to suggest that even the AR metaverse is going to be pretty static, probably tethered to home/other wifi most of the time, too. But, well, we’re sure the porn industry is going to invent new use cases for it for the true “mixed reality” devotees.)
“As we set out in December, our vision of creating true AR glasses will require years of progress to make our devices thinner, lighter, faster and more powerful, while consuming less battery and generating less “Devices will need to understand both the world and the expressions of users to effectively overlay pixels on reality to deliver a truly transformative experience,” they warn.
“Our engineers are among the best in the world and they continue to be at the forefront of bringing our vision of AR to life. This is one of the most ambitious R&D efforts in the world today. today, focused on creating a truly revolutionary new kind of computing platform. However, overcoming the challenges outlined above will take years before AR devices become ubiquitous.”
That’s “years”, twice – straight from the mouth of the Metamates.
So, Metaverse lovers, better not wait for this one. Head over to Horizon Worlds now – for a real taste of those metaverse decades to come.