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Extended Reality and 3GPP Evolution

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.

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 uses 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.

Extended Reality and 3GPP Evolution” explores the following key topics:

  • Evolution of XR
  • XR key facilitators and use cases
  • VR use cases
  • AR use cases
  • XR service characteristics and delivery requirements
  • XR key enablers
  • XR in 3GPP standards

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.”

High-quality XR is becoming increasingly accessible and continues to evolve. Digital Twins, AI/ML, IoT, are integral to the evolution and implementation of XR, which may usher in virtually unlimited possibilities.

Executive Summary

Extended Reality (XR) enhances our lived experiences with Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR). It creates either fully virtual, immersive environments or blends those virtual landscapes and features with the “real” world. Its use cases are not limited to consumer applications like gaming, but also include enterprise, institutions, and manufacturing. XR will influence the way people play, work, learn, and interact with each other. VR, but particularly AR, requires significant development in multiple areas including but not limited to multi-media, artificial intelligence, computing, display systems, and communication to provide experiences that incorporate XR into our daily lives.

Low latency, high reliability, lower power consumption and high capacity are key service requirements for the success of XR. 5G New Radio (NR) developed by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is designed to support emerging XR uses cases that require such Key Performance Indicators (KPI). While 5G NR benefits XR, potential enhancements for 5G and balanced KPIs require further end-to-end optimizations.

This white paper describes potential use cases with service delivery requirements. It also details how 5G can enable an end-to-end XR system, including how split computation architecture across various system components provides benefits for lower latency, higher reliability, higher rates, and less device computation. Rel-15/Rel-16 offers a decent foundation for XR but has not been specifically designed or optimized for XR support. The paper examines the evolution of 5G systems from Rel-15 and 16 that can be leveraged for XR, before describing potential enhancements recognized by 3GPP in Rel-17 through Rel-18 that are expected to optimize XR support including XR awareness, power optimizations, and capacity enhancements. The paper concludes by describing anticipated studies of localized mobile metaverse services in Rel-19.

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