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Metaverse

Will the Metaverse Replace Telecom?

Mike Dunham

I was on a call recently and the subject of the Metaverse was brought up. The question was, how would it change communication, and also, how would it affect the future of telecom? It’s an interesting question, but first, we have to understand what the Metaverse is, and how it’s being used.

WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?

At its core, the Metaverse is a contained virtual world that you interact with using a computer generated character that represents you; an avatar. You are probably more familiar with the Metaverse than you think. Kids certainly are. If you grew up playing Club Penguin, Everquest, or the SIMs, you might have an easier time imagining what the Metaverse is. If not, then ask almost any child about Roblox or Fortnite. For those of you who are still wondering what I’m talking about, let me share an experience.

A friend recently switched over their real estate business to the Metaverse. I had questions. They offered to screen-share, and I watched as they guided their avatar through a virtual world to attend a lecture. They walked through a central plaza, entered a building, and then a lecture hall where they took a seat in the front row. Here they were able to chat with fellow attendees using a chat window. Finally the speaker stepped onto the stage, moved over to a lectern, and began speaking to the audience. All of this takes place in real time with avatars controlled by the humans they represent.

Avatars can range in look and detail, depending on the “world” you visit. Many allow you to create an online version of yourself, while others allow you to be something else entirely. In the metaverse world of Decentraland, you are as likely to see an avatar in the casual attire of a T-shirt and jeans, as you are to see someone with wings on their back flying around you.

WHY THE METAVERSE?

The answer here is a little “because we can” and a little “because it’s convenient”. We have a virtual world inhabited by avatars controlled by humans at their keyboards. While it might seem impractical for some, for a generation growing up in a world where online meetings and virtual interactions with avatars in their video games is a daily occurrence; this isn’t much of a stretch.

Virtual meetings were generally held for those traveling or working remotely. Now, if you asked someone if we should zoom this afternoon, it’s likely they are not going to think you’re asking them to head out for a drive. My 8 year old can set up a Zoom meeting, on his own, for virtual playdate. This boom in the need for virtual meetups and its expanded audience forced Zoom to grow quickly and stabilize the platform. They did, leaving competitors like Skype behind. Zoom meetings are now more common than face-to-face meetings, even if you’re in the same building.

ARE PEOPLE BUYING INTO THIS?

People are already buying virtual property and clothes for their avatars, and tickets to attend virtual events.

Meta metaverse
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, purchased Oculus (the producers of virtual reality headsets). VR allows for a deeper immersion into the virtual environment. The headsets give the Metaverse user a 360 view of the world they are interacting with. Meta will be selling virtual clothes for your online avatar. If this sounds silly, know that games like Fortnite and Roblox are making millions selling various “skins” or outfits to players. Virtual clothes, for real cash.
The Sandbox metaverse
PIXOWL INC. is the developer of The Sandbox. A “digital asset” game for desktop and mobile, leveraging Ethereum’s blockchain to track ownership of digital land assets and NFTs, they also use Ethereum Wallets to track users’ SAND tokens used in the game. On Nov. 1, 2021, The Sandbox tweeted that it has over 165 partners who will “contribute to creating a diverse, multi-cultural place.”
Snoop Dogg - Sandbox metaverse
Celebrity musician and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg owns virtual land in The Sandbox. That “land” contains a game called Snoop’s Mansion and hosts special events that only ticket holders can attend. Land adjacent to Snoop Doggs was recently purchased by three different companies for a total of $1.23 Million. Each parcel is a 3×3 section containing nine squares that could be developed or broken up and resold. Still another firm admitted to spending $4.3 million on virtual real estate in The Sandbox.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO TELECOM?

Telecom is affordable and accessible, and phones are still a commonality for communication. It’s an option that will likely remain in demand even if a large scale Metaverse adoption takes place. How many times have you gone to a company’s website, not found what you were looking for, and ended up calling to get the information?

Not only will there always be people that won’t embrace the Metaverse technology. The cost of access will prevent smaller businesses from investing in Metaverse real estate and some consumers from having the necessary equipment to access it. Businesses will still need phones to interact with consumers across these economic and technological divides.

VoIP service is economical, reliable, and simple to set up. The cost for a SIP Trunk and a number is low, and even older computers are capable of running the necessary software for using a softphone such as Clearly Anywhere.

Eventually, the Metaverse technology will come down in price, and more people will be willing to utilize it. But having the option of directly connecting to the person you’re trying to reach, will remain a necessary and affordable option for many years to come.