How will 5G boost VR and AR?

How will 5G boost VR and AR?

Virtual Reality


In the near future augmented and virtual reality applications will lean heavily on a 5G network.

5G will bring about a massive boost to mobile data performance and stability. One of the big beneficiaries and drivers of this improvement will be VR and AR.

What are VR and AR?

You’re probably aware that VR stands for Virtual Reality. This is the practice of putting people into fully immersive computer-simulated worlds through specially constructed headsets.

AR, on the other hand, stands for Augmented Reality. This is built on similar technology to VR, but instead of creating a complete digital reality closed off from the physical world it layers digital elements over the top.

ABI Research estimates the total AR market will reach $114 billion by 2021, while the total VR market will reach $65 billion within the same timeframe.


5G for AR and VR – What can we expect from?

The arrival of the next generation of mobile network will unlock the full potential of VR and AR technology which is currently very limited by 4G network standards of bandwidth, latency and uniformity.

The complex worlds and sophisticated input mechanisms of VR and AR experiences require a lot of data to be processed and 4G make this process slower if the user needs to feed data remotely or if he is on the move or away from a fixed internet connection.

This is where 5G’s significantly faster speeds and lower latency will come to the fore. ABI Research anticipates that 5G will bring about “a 10% improvement in throughout, a 10% decrease in latency, a 100% improvement in traffic capacity, and a 100% improvement in network efficiency” over 4G.



ABI’s white paper list four potential use case scenarios:

This paper highlights the potential synergy between 5G and VR/AR technology.

  • The streaming of VR and particularly AR content to vehicles. It’s expected that autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles will become the norm over the coming decade or so, which will open the possibility of AR and VR content to be streamed into the car. This will require 5G’s additional bandwidth and mobility.
  • Live streaming a sporting event over social media, utilising VR to make the feed truly immersive. There will necessarily be a very high density of users within a confined space, which 5G should be able to handle.
  • Forthcoming video formats will be much more data-intensive than present examples thanks to VR and AR applications. The likes of interactive 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) video, which allows you to move around within recorded videos, can require up to 10X the bitrate required for 4K video.
  • Increasing complexity in remote control devices. Added demand for the ability to control devices remotely, as well as the greater sophistication through haptic feedback in the so-called ‘Tactile Internet,’ will require much lower latency from a mobile network.

smart city


How will VR and AR drive 5G adoption?

The next generation of video formats will be much more data-intensive than current standards, necessitating a much better mobile network environment.

But VR applications like the 360-degree video will necessitate higher resolutions of 8K and above, and stereoscopic video (which separates left and right eye views in VR) also requires additional bandwidth. Meanwhile, the 6DoF video mentioned above will add extra strain to its translational movement capabilities.

AR devices will be designed to be worn all day and to be constantly connected to the internet.

ABI Research anticipates that there will be 48 million such AR smart glasses in operation by 2021.

All together this will mean an exponential increase in data demands on our mobile networks, which will help push the adoption of 5G.


5g Ar headset

Making Of Timing

While 5G won’t commence its public roll-out until 2020, ABI Research points out that the foundations for mobile network-assisted AR and VR applications will be laid this year and this will come in the form of ubiquitous 4G coverage

Giulia Giri