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Cloud gaming to be one of the biggest use cases of 5G: Airtel CTO

Cloud gaming to be one of the biggest use cases of 5G: Airtel CTO
Photo Credit: Reuters
2 Sep, 2021

Cloud gaming will be one of the “biggest use cases of 5G” since it offers a combination of high speed and low latency Internet, said Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer (CTO) of Bharti Airtel.  

The telecom company announced on Thursday that it had successfully conducted the country’s first cloud gaming session in a 5G environment. 

In Airtel’s test, the networks delivered latency in the range of 10 milliseconds and bandwidth of 1 Gbps over the 3500 MHz spectrum. Airtel used its 5G test lab in Manesar in the National Capital Region (NCR) area for the cloud gaming pilot, also suggesting that the industry in India is readying itself to take cloud gaming seriously. 

When games are streamed over the cloud, the time taken for data to travel from a server to the user’s device needs to be really low — otherwise called latency — which is one of the key benefits of 5G technology. 

Cloud gaming uses computing power from cloud servers to stream resource intensive games to devices that would otherwise not support such games. Globally, the cloud gaming market was valued at $612.31 million in 2020 by market research firm Mordor Intelligence. The company expected the industry to touch $5370.37 million by 2026, driven by entries from technology major like Google and Microsoft. 

“Future growth will be driven by IoT (internet of things) gaming, smart sports clothing, health gaming, gamification of traditional media and 5G-led innovations across cloud gaming, cross-platform gaming, e-commerce gamification, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) games,” noted a March 2021 report on India’s Media and Entertainment sector by EY. 

To be sure, Airtel used a game called Asphalt that runs on pretty much every mobile phone today, but the mere fact that the company tested this is significant. 

“At a gaming industry level, we’re definitely able to see the future of cloud gaming,” said Rajan Navani, CEO of digital entertainment and technology company, JetSynthesys. “It alters not only the methods in which storage and server movements, etc. happen, but business models tend to change drastically when cloud gaming becomes mainstream. It doesn’t matter which device you’re playing on, what is the speed, etc. Because you have the cloud, that’s where you’re playing. The dependency on devices, and the cost goes down,” he added. 

In India, it means that budding mobile gamers will not have to spend on expensive equipment in order to access high end games. “With the proposed launch of 5G services, cloud gaming has the potential to transform the gaming experience for a mass of users, taking device capabilities out of the picture. This is especially important for markets like India, with limited capacity to invest in hardware,” KPMG noted in its report titled “Beyond the tipping point – A primer on Casual gaming in India” in June. 

The report noted that online casual gaming in India stood at Rs 60 billion in FY21 and is projected to grow to Rs 169 billion by FY25. However, Navani warned that 5G is only the basic infrastructure required for gaming over the cloud and at the end of the day research and resources put into advanced technologies like AI, VR and more, along with positive consumer adoption, is what will bring this to the mainstream.