GSMA postpones Mobile World Congress to end of June 2021
BARCELONA / BERLIN (Reuters) – Organizers of the Mobile World Congress, the telecommunications industry’s largest annual gathering, said on Wednesday they were postponing next year’s event until the end of June to allow a reunion safely despite the coronavirus pandemic.
MWC 2021, originally scheduled for early March, will now be held in Barcelona, Spain, from June 28 to July 1. This year’s convention was called off at the last minute as the virus spread around the world.
The event, which combines a glitzy lounge with an executive networking frenzy, will take place face-to-face, but attendance will be down from the 110,000 who traditionally converge in the Catalan capital as winter turns into spring. .
“It’s going to be physical. It will be face to face. But it’s going to have a bigger virtual component, ”said Mats Granryd, CEO of GSMA, the industry association hosting the convention.
“Having over 110,000 events is less interesting – finding the right people is more interesting,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Congress has already given a boost of $ 500 million to the local economy – a boost we badly need as infection rates skyrocket. The blow to travel and tourism from the pandemic has been devastating, with only three out of 10 hotels now open in Barcelona.
The GSMA, which has 750 operators and 400 other companies from the wider industry as members, has scratched this year’s event after an exodus of exhibitors. Travel, auto and tech fairs quickly followed, forcing organizers to adapt to online formats.
Despite initial criticism, the lobby group appeased its critics by offering refunds and credits for future shows. He has pledged to keep the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at least until 2024.
Seventy-eight of the first 100 exhibitors had already registered for next year, said Granryd of the GSMA, a number that could reach the 80s after the event was pushed back to the Mediterranean summer.
The delay is aimed at buying time to strengthen hygiene measures around a “contactless” event which, in a social distancing function, will replace tickets with admission using facial recognition technology.
Granryd expressed hope that by next summer it will be possible for delegates to take rapid COVID-19 tests at their hotel before heading to the event. He also said he was confident that telecommunications bosses would have access to vaccines, currently under development, once they were available.
The GSMA said it will also move the Chinese edition of next year’s Mobile World Congress, to be held in Shanghai, February 23-25, which amounts to a calendar swap with the main event in Barcelona. .
Additional reports by Inti Landauro; Written by Douglas Busvine; edited by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan and Tomasz Janowski