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Facebook’s parent company Meta has called for a global collaborative effort to build the necessary infrastructure to support its burgeoning metaverse ambitions.

“Metaverse” emerged as one of the major buzzwords of 2021, driven in large part by Facebook, which went all-in on the metaverse and changed its corporate name to Meta. The metaverse, essentially, will be a synchronous series of interconnected, interoperable virtual worlds that people “live” inside and move between.

Into the metaverse

Meta has plowed considerable resources into connectivity infrastructure over the past 15 years, spanning everything from subsea cables and satellites, to autonomous internet-beaming drones — the goal has been to get as many people online as possible and, ultimately, using Meta’s array of digital services.

The next big challenge for the coming decade, according to Meta, is to build “metaverse-ready networks” to enable the high-speed, ultra-low latency requirements of a mixed reality world where people engage through head-mounted displays.

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“The connectivity industry has spent the last decade focused on building the infrastructure needed to support the billions of people who have come online to a mobile-first internet,” Meta VP Dan Rabinovitsj wrote in a blog post. “The next great connectivity challenge is emerging — reimagining network infrastructure to support the computing platforms of the future.”

While low-latency data transfers are necessary today for things like video-calling and cloud gaming, in a world where the graphics will have to be rendered on-screen in direct response to where someone has shifted their gaze, “…things will need to move an order of magnitude faster,” Rabinovitsj said. Single or low double-digit millisecond latency is the goal.

For its metaverse vision to be realized, the world will need “vast enhancements in capacity and fundamental shifts in how networks are architected and deployed,” according to Rabinovitsj, which will mean a huge industry-wide collaboration spanning tech companies, mobile network operators, policymakers, and everyone in between.

Timed to coincide with the annual MWC tradeshow in Barcelona, Meta yesterday revealed a partnership with telecommunications giant Telefónica. The tie-up will initially involve co-building what they’ve dubbed the Metaverse Innovation Hub in the Spanish capital, Madrid — this will be to “accelerate metaverse network and device readiness” through various trials and testing initiatives.

“Through this Metaverse Innovation Hub, Telefónica and Meta plan to provide local startups and developers with access to a groundbreaking 5G laboratory where they will be able to utilize a metaverse end-to-end test bed on Meta and Telefónica’s network infrastructure and equipment,” Rabinovitsj said.

As part of its presence at MWC 2022 this year, Meta will also be hosting a discussion in conjunction with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), a collaborative industry effort launched by Facebook back in 2016 that’s focused on improving telecom network infrastructure.

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