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5G networks bring enhanced wireless connectivity to extended reality

Extended Reality (XR), an umbrella term for Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), will be the next-generation computing platform which aims to create virtual experiences indistinguishable from reality. 5G Americas, the voice of 5G and 4G LTE for the Americas, announced the release of its latest white paper covering XR and wireless cellular networks entitled, “Extended Reality and 3GPP Evolution.”

Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas, said, “XR will greatly influence the way people play, work, learn, and connect. Its use cases have broad impact on the enterprise, institutions, education, emergency response and in manufacturing.”

There are numerous XR experiences with applications in a variety of scenarios. Additional VR applications may include online gaming, virtual event participation, and educational experiences, while mobile AR use cases may include video gaming, mission critical services, online shopping, spatial-audio multiparty calls and conferences, and digital co-design.

5G New Radio (NR) developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is designed to support emerging XR use cases that require rigorous key performance indicators. Specifically, low latency, high reliability, lower power consumption, and high capacity are key requirements for the success of XR. Such demands may include quasi-periodic traffic in large chunks, irregular intervals, and variable size, as well as high data rates including uplink (UL) for AR services, simultaneous transmission of 3D video stream, and control data over the same end-to-end connection.

While 5G benefits XR, emerging use cases will require further end-to-end optimizations and potential enhancements for 5G networks, which continue to evolve with each new 3GPP specification release. Rel-15 and Rel-16 offer a decent foundation for XR, but they were not specifically designed or optimized for XR support. Potential enhancements in 3GPP Rel-17 and Rel-18 are expected to optimize XR support including XR awareness, power optimizations, and capacity enhancements.

Orlett Pearson, Senior Specialist Standardization at Nokia and leader of the 5G Americas working group for this paper, said, “High-quality XR is becoming increasingly accessible and continues to evolve. Digital Twins, AI/ML, and IoT are integral to the evolution and implementation of XR, which may usher in virtually unlimited possibilities.”

Diana Maamari, Staff Engineer at Qualcomm, and co-leader of this 5G Americas working group, said, “In addition to advancements in XR technologies like optics, projectors, display systems, graphics, audio, tracking, and AI, 5G standards with XR-specific enhancements and distributed computing architectures can enable boundless XR and provide photorealistic visuals. Future advances in beam perception and artificial intelligence can bring further communication benefits and make boundless XR a reality at scale.” Business Wire

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