How 5G is turning cloud gaming into growth opportunities

“With shorter latency times, less jitter, and less packet loss in mobile gaming, 5G brings the ability for true cloud gaming services to become more of a reality by bringing the world closer together,” said Tim Guhl, vice president of sales at Singtel.

Guhl was in conversation with Lisa Hanson, founder and president of Niko Partners, during the 12th annual GamesBeat Summit. This year, the summit’s theme is “Growing the next generation,” and Guhl explored how 5G is permanently cutting the cord, changing the world of gaming, with the potential to become a key integrator in allowing true augmented reality in game systems, cloud gaming, and more.

The average network in the U.S. is 4G, and most people with internet average about 30 to 35 megabits. Additionally, cell phone towers support about 30 to 40 simultaneous connections at any given time.

In the switch to 5G, the average speed jumps to about 70-80 megabits, more than double the speed, and the towers will be able to support about a million devices per square kilometer, or about one third of a square mile.

“Wide area networks and the need for routers in our homes, for routers, will go away, and SIM cards to connect devices to the mobility network will become standard in laptops and TVs, not just cell phones and tablets,” Guhl added.

Singtel, which has about 706 million wireless customers around the world, has been able to observe case studies across the globe. The most interesting case study is Singapore-specific, he said. Implementing new technology is far easier in Singapore than in the U.S. because of its small size, and as a result, 5G technology is completely rolled out in there.

“Singapore specifically is a fantastic place to look to see where the U.S. can be in roughly five to seven years in the future,” Guhl says.

There’s been major growth around the internet of things, he says, with average consumers owning upwards of five to eight mobile connected devices. In the realm of gaming, that means the number of devices that can connect directly to the network has surged, from smart watches to AR glasses, cutting the cord completely and bringing 3D gaming that much closer.

5G will also have a tremendous impact on esports, where milliseconds can make a difference between living or dying, winning or not winning the first-place purse, which continues to grow. How do you control latency and play conditions with teams separated by wide distances, especially when cloud gaming performance depends so much on geography.

“Geography impacts the ability to have a seamless, real-time event,” he said. “5G is among the advancements in making sure that latency, no matter the distance, is getting better, especially for mobile game platforms like PUBG and others that are purely for mobile devices.”

Content providers are starting to use cache servers in order to implement cloud gaming, setting up multiple servers in a geographic region. The gamer pings the one that’s closest, so the edge comes to them. Being able to set up multiple points of presence in a single region is quite capital-intensive; to make this a more practical strategy will require additional technology advancements. Those advancements, such as quantum communications, where distance no longer matters, are closer than most people realize, Guhl says.

“In the next decade we’re going to see some significant advancements that will allow cloud computing and cloud gaming to become more mainstream opportunities for end users and the companies involved,” he said.

Singtel is currently working with gaming content companies, such as Riot Games and Ubisoft, to penetrate the highly populated, very lucrative Asia Pacific market to grow their base of end users.

“We’re working on what’s considered a general, nebulous term — the internet of things — in order to make this happen,” he says. “It’s a purely connected reality, where there are multiple connections, including in the gaming industry with the actual hardware, and the actual games.”

The conversations they’re having, about the current technologies that will work best, and the next-gen technology to prepare for, are advancing the industry throughout the Asia Pacific region, he added.

“We’re helping the video game community become a much larger and more inclusive place, throughout the region and throughout the world,” he said.

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