5G, AR/VR and the Metaverse: A Mid-2020s Content Inflection Period

By Drew McReynolds and André-Philippe Hardy
Published February 24, 2022 | 13 min listen

Significant structural changes across the telecommunications and media sector are giving rise to new technologies, including 5G, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the metaverse, which we believe will usher in platforms that are more immersive than any mediated content that has come before.

Disclosures and Disclaimers

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Identifying a mid-2020s content inflection period

Over the past 20 years, we have taken a unique inflection period approach to analyzing the significant digital disruption that has and is occurring across the telecom and media sector. In 2006, we identified a potential 2012-2015 broadcasting inflection period, which was when we believed broadcast television in Canada would come under pressure. In 2011, we identified a potential 2017-2019 over-the-top inflection period, which was when we believed streaming services would become a more viable substitute for linear television. These inflection periods have largely played out, transforming how we consume content.

In 2018, we identified a mid-2020s content inflection period, which we believe will be the next period of accelerated change this time in the types of content we consume underpinned by the full digitization of traditional media, a more powerful technology stack that with 5G can support new technologies, such as AR and VR, and new privacy regulation.


5G could be a general purpose technology with a transformational impact

With 3G taking the Internet mobile, and 4G ushering in mobile video, we expect 5G to "blanket the world" with broadband connectivity connecting every physical structure and device across our entire economy. In this respect, 5G has the potential to be a “general purpose technology” where the transformational impact is significant – similar to the printing press, steam engine, electricity, automobile and the Internet. As 5G finally enables the Internet to ‘’fade into the background’’, we expect 5G to be a significant enabler of AR and VR and the killer apps that emerge within these platforms.


Why AR and VR could be game changers

Our time spent consuming media continues to rise which has been the case since the invention of the printing press. Within the next 3-5 years, we believe the technology stack will be powerful enough to support AR and VR with each becoming mainstream. From a content perspective, the game changer is that these platforms will be more immersive than any mediated content that has come before, and our ability to "escape" for the first time will be largely untethered from physical reality, limited only by our digital imagination.


Personalized platforms and the metaverse

The best living example of what the technology stack means for immersion is video gaming. Video games are now fully morphing into holistic platforms that converge entertainment, information and communication and embed powerful social, sport and commercial elements. In fact, we believe these platforms could be a precursor to what is being referred to as the “metaverse”. While there are a number of opinions on what exactly the metaverse is and will be, we believe the appropriate starting point is that the metaverse is the next iteration of the Internet, but one where the construct is three dimensional or even four dimensional. Longer-term, as we emerge from our mid-2020s content inflection period, we expect powerful "personalized" platforms to be capable of mediating both our reality and our intelligence, with the metaverse that next iteration of the Internet that begins to unify these platforms in a seamless and persistent way.

5GARAndré-Philippe HardyIndustries in MotionMetaverseVR

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