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5G network that follows the game players

Go get ‘em. Gaming continues to become more realistic, more involving and more compelling. The use of 4K high definition graphics, multiplayer involvement, Augmented Reality (AR) and, of course, the shift to mobile, all raise technical challenges for networks.

Mobile handsets do not have huge processing power, so games must be streamed in real time from powerful servers in the cloud (for more insight see our recent blog). Scalable cloud computing is needed to power the complex vector graphics and rendering, interpreting the gamer’s inputs and responding near instantly to ensure a superb gaming experience.

5G broadband then delivers the graphics at high quality and with super-low latency for every gaming application and every user, wherever they may be.

New demands of gaming on the go

The demands of the game on the mobile network can change in major ways too. When a player upgrades from a trial mode to subscribe to the full game, for example, the quality and features may need to be upgraded. Or maybe new features are switched on as the player achieves game milestones. It’s likely that more bandwidth and lower latency would need to be made available.

Even more challenging, suppose an enthusiast is playing a game at home and building up a record score, but goes out mid-way through the session. How does the network ensure the game is delivered uninterrupted and with the same quality while the player is travelling, perhaps as a passenger in a car?

Moving the entire gaming app

As the player moves around there may be a loss of quality of service. The cloud-based gaming app needs to identify this and ask the 5G network for more throughput and latency. The 5G network then reacts by relocating the user-plane closer to the gamer.

Yet to ensure a totally seamless, uninterrupted gaming experience the network may need to move the entire gaming application to another cloud-based server closer to the user. The application relocation is requested by the programmable 5G network and a new game application instance is started in another edge location. A state transfer between the two application instances is completed – all without jeopardizing the gaming experience.

In effect, the 5G access network and gaming application physically follow the gamer around. It’s a remarkable and challenging proposition, but there is no reason why it cannot be achieved.

The powerful duo – MEC and NEF

There are two key technologies behind the successful delivery of high-performance gaming – Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and Network Exposure Function (NEF).

MEC enables the game application to run in the cloud located close to the user to reduce latency. The gaming application tells the 5G network what latency and bandwidth it needs, but it can also optimize itself to the actual bandwidth and latency it gets. This calls for continuous interaction with the 5G network, which must be secure and based on standard Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). 

To move the gaming instance to another edge location, the MEC mobility API enables the process with MEC application orchestration controlling the state transfer to maintain session continuity.

The NEF plays a critical role here by acting as a secure gateway for API requests and to provide additional useful information for the game programmers through the developer portal like catalogs or examples.

Open and ready

With these capabilities, the 5G network can flexibly adapt to the needs of gamers (and other consumers), as well as the needs of gaming applications. New possibilities are opened for cloud game developers too.

5G is ready to boost the gaming experience.

To learn more about the Nokia MEC platform, please visit Nokia web pages.

Read more about 5G Service Capability exposure

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Zoltan Varnai

About Zoltan Varnai

Zoltan Varnai works in the Nokia Software Core marketing team. His professional passion is marketing of the core network with a special focus on 5G core programming capabilities. His personal passion is drumming – giving bands clock-like pace.

Tweet me at @VarnaiZoltan

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