Telecoms to see 650% growth in data consumption on VR headsets

VR headset and data consumptionTelecom operators are going to witness a 650 percent growth in data consumption on wireless VR headsets — smartphone-based and standalone in 4 years.

Data consumption on wireless VR headsets will grow by over 650 percent from nearly 2,800PB (Petabytes) in 2017 to over 21,000PB in 2021. VR requires fast data speeds to stream content effectively.

Data consumption will reach over 28,000PB when combined with traffic generated by VR headsets tethered to PCs and consoles, placing significant additional strain on both wired and wireless networks, said Juniper Networks.

The industry development assumes significance at a time when most telecom operators are trying to reduce both Opex and Capex in order to handle revenue pressure.

Data demand of each VR device is expected to exceed that of 4K by 2021 — driven by the need for higher image quality and frame rates.

Cisco Visual Networking Index said VR/AR traffic will increase 20-fold and represent one percent of global entertainment traffic by 2021. Video will dominate IP traffic and overall Internet traffic growth — representing 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2021 against 67 percent in 2016. There will be nearly 1.9 billion Internet video users (excluding mobile-only) by 2021, up from 1.4 billion in 2016.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) head-worn device shipments are expected to reach 37 million by 2018, at an 83 percent CAGR, said ABI Research.

Strategies for network operators

Network operators and broadband providers should be part of the VR standards conversation now. Future data demand needs to be taken into account when considering specifications like minimum frame rate and resolution. Technologies which reduce the amount of data processing, like foveated rendering, need to be rolled out and become universal.

Facebook and WeChat are developing VR platforms and several VR games, most notably Star Trek: Bridge Crew, have social elements. These platforms are designed to bring more users into the VR ecosystem by offering new social interactions.

“The promise of having new worlds to explore is much more compelling when other people can share the experience, which needs social games and social interfaces, as well as the development of cross-platform standards,” said research author James Moar.

ABI Research said 360-degree video, interactive and immersive content formats will generate $6 billion revenue by 2022; tapping into the virtual reality ecosystem as well as widespread support for application development on mobile platforms.

360-degree content has been tested in major genres including sports (such as BT’s distribution of the Champion’s League), music (such as Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta Musik service), and news (such as New York Times VR).  Netflix has launched its first interactive content with children’s programs Puss in Boots and Buddy Thunderstruckdesigned to increase engagement.

“New technologies exist to conduct fully spatial and/or light field mapping of spaces, as well as to generate holographic models of actors.  Combining these techniques with artist-generated layers and interactive storytelling elements, such as speech synthesis, opens the door to using gaming technologies to deliver immersive entertainment to large audiences,” said Sam Rosen, managing director and VP at ABI Research.

Strategy Analytics said VR owners are more likely to be aged 25-34 in China and India, aged 25-44 in Western Europe and aged 35-44 in the US. VR intenders fit exactly the same age brackets in each region with the exception of the US where VR intenders are more likely to be older, aged 45+

Slightly more males than females currently own VR headsets; slightly more males than females also intend to purchase VR in the future. Interestingly the split between males and females remains constant across all regions.