How can the cellular RAN support real-time gaming and drive new revenue opportunities for MNOs?
Mobile gaming is backed by many to succeed and has attracted huge investment. But, it has a weak link – the Radio Access Network, or RAN. Here’s how to fix that problem!
The gaming industry is gearing up for a significant shift. While dedicated consoles have dominated the market for many years, they have remained relatively expensive and beyond the reach of many. Now, with internet access increasingly available but typically enabled via mobile devices, the industry is about to unleash a host of new mobile gaming services. This is expected to bring powerful new gaming experiences to a vast population of mobile-enabled internet users, as reported in the Economist (“Mortal Kombat”, 23rd November 2019).
As a result, according to the Economist, the gaming market is expected to surge in value – from $150 billion today to nearly $500 billion by 2030. A host of companies are lining up to launch cloud-based mobile offers to capitalise on this opportunity, with familiar names entering the fray alongside existing producers. There’s just one problem.
Complex, exciting and attractive games depend on real-time or near real-time performance. With consoles, this kind of performance has been easy to achieve. But, with mobile, it’s much harder. The distance between the cloud service and the mobile user can be considerable, leading to latency issues at the best of times – and with imperfect mobile network coverage, these are likely to be exacerbated. So, if the industry is to avoid a damaging flop, something needs to be done.
There are a variety of potential solutions. One is to offer dedicated mobile hardware, optimised with high-performance chips – but this will likely be expensive and will fail to unlock the promised mass-market potential. What’s needed is a truly democratic solution that can deliver optimised, per-session performance guarantees that can be dynamically applied, according to the conditions experienced during playtime. This needs to take place in the RAN – the Radio Access Network, which is the point at which mobile devices connect to the network over cellular links.
For example, gQoE, from Tambora provides exactly that capability. This means that each mobile connection can be optimised, depending on the performance delivered to a user, in every game session, in any cell. However, even this may not be sufficient when the market really takes off.
That’s why Tambora has introduced its new Edge Traffic Manager solution, T-Box. This provides Mobile Edge Computing capabilities, enabling break-out of gaming (or other content streaming) traffic at the eNodeB – in other words, at the RAN, where it matters. It works in parallel with gQoE, diverting specific traffic flows away from the core network.
The segmented traffic bypasses the mobile core, eliminating latency and is sent directly to the appropriate servers in the cloud. The combination of T-Box and gQoE delivers a more consistent experience for users, reducing latency and providing an enhanced data rate as required for game sessions, which are often of long duration.
As mobile gaming adoption soars, it offers a dynamic solution to enable real-time gaming via mobile devices, but with additional quality guarantees and which can scale to support mass mobile gaming.
As a result, instead of pushing more expensive, dedicated devices, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) can use gQoE and T-Box to offer gaming-focused packages for additional revenue – but marginal to the user – allowing them to assure performance while delivering better experiences and to secure their part of this market, while helping gaming providers to reach more users.
Mobile gaming offers much promise. But over-hyping expectations risk damaging an emerging industry before it can really get going. Innovations such as Tambora’s gQoE and T-Box will allow MNOs to control experiences so that expectations can be met – helping to ensure the success of truly mobile gaming by taking action where it matters – in the RAN.