Like every year Facebook and Google held their annual conferences for developers where both announced significant releases that could translate into increasing demand for network resources.
During I/O 2018, the annual conference of Google developers, the integration of Google Maps with Street View was announced to provide better recommendations to users through an augmented reality experience. Users can open Maps and activate their camera to browse the services around them showing key details such as name, reviews, and customer ratings. Thanks to this new feature, Google vindicates itself after the failed launch of Google Glass; now Maps will be a handy way to live the immersive experience, which also opens an important door for gaming in the app, with most of the smartphones available on the market.
For its part, during F8, Facebook announced the introduction of augmented reality in Messenger conversations. Now while the users are chatting with a brand, they can activate the cameras of their mobile devices and interact with products from the brand. Very similar to Snapchat, Facebook will include filters in its platform that will allow, in a virtual way, to have a more realistic view of the products and to “put them on.” Although it is in the testing phase with some selected brands such as Sephora and Nike, it is expected that by 2019 the platform will have an official market launch.
Even though it is not a brand new technology, the business models associated with augmented reality (AR) could materialize exponentially in 2019 thanks to these recent official announcements. The networks will have to respond to these applications, prepare the infrastructure for traffic peaks, and have the capacity and connectivity to enable a seamless experience.
Mexico, a market that will demand to live immersive experiences
In Mexico, 68 million people are connected to Facebook, and 90% of them access from their mobile devices. On the other hand, Google Maps has approximately 17, 208 million unique users per month. The impact of integrations with augmented reality will be enormous in the country; operators must prepare their network infrastructure to meet the bandwidth demands of AR experiences and comply with speed and latency requirements.
Until Pokémon Go, the applications of augmented reality connected to the Internet could be supported by the existing infrastructure. However, these new experiences will demand greater capacity. According to a study from GlobalData, there is a wide range of expectations about the impact of VR and AR on traffic in telecommunications networks. Almost half expect an increase in traffic of more than 40 percent by 2025. In that sense, the main challenges will be to develop applications whose infrastructure does not involve costly mass adoptions.
It is possible that augmented reality will face network limitations in markets such as the Mexican one, but that will not stop the need for deploying content distribution networks because users will expect a high-quality experience in real time. Both Mexican and international network operators must work together to find strategic points for global interconnection, and edge data centers may represent an attractive opportunity to keep up with the increasing demand for content following the announcements of these two technological giants.