Mobile World Congress plans to restart conferences in a post-COVID world

Subsequent month’s Cellular World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona is shaping up as an early check out of how shortly the worldwide enterprise events enterprise will bounce once more from the pandemic, with a differ of hi-tech choices being rolled out to attempt to protect friends safe.

The often annual event – which was cancelled ultimate 12 months – is probably going one of many world’s largest enterprise conferences, often attracting spherical 100,000 attendees as telecoms companies showcase their latest merchandise and executives meet to do gives.

Whereas organisers will provide on-line entry for people who must preserve away, they’re hoping to welcome a whole lot of attendees from all through the world, along with from nations the place the pandemic continues to be raging.

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There shall be frequent quick COVID-19 exams, a digital badge that may give entry to the venue, and a contact-tracing app if there are any infections.

Dwell monitoring of the placement will allow organisers to manage the number of people in any given house, whereas attendees could must placed on face masks and protect to one-way routes.

“We really feel now’s the time to resurface once more and to do a comeback present, whereas realizing that it’s not going to be the identical sort of present as earlier than, but it surely’s not less than a begin,” talked about Mats Granryd, director fundamental of telecom carriers affiliation GSMA, which organises the MWC.

Additionally study: Now Qualcomm pulls out of MWC 2021’s in-person event

The Spanish authorities is on board. It has agreed to specific preparations to allow attendees from nations the place journey restrictions are nonetheless in stress. Spain itself reported 33 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, the underside decide since August.

However holding the event stays a bet for the GSMA. Main companies along with Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung is not going to be attending in-person, and attendance is anticipated to be decrease than half the 100,000 of a daily 12 months.

“Speaking to folks within the business, there’s a actual need to get again to bodily occasions, however it’s all about timing,” talked about Ben Wooden, chief analyst at CCS Perception. “We’ll discover out in coming weeks whether or not the GSMA has made the right determination.”

The cancellation of ultimate 12 months’s event was a big blow for the GSMA and compelled it to put off about 40% of its employees. Sub-par attendance, or one different cancellation, would suggest additional ache.

A worthwhile current, nevertheless, may provide a model for various event organisers eager to get their firms once more on monitor.


The GSMA decided in mid-January to go ahead with the MWC in Barcelona, with a rescheduled February event in Shanghai as a warm-up.

“Shanghai was in a manner a testbed. Is it potential to have a giant present with face masks, with social distancing, with testing beforehand? It was, and we had zero instances,” Granryd talked about.

“It was actually after Shanghai, I believe, we felt assured that we’re in a position to pull it off.”

About 25,000 people attended MWC Shanghai this 12 months and higher than 100,000 watched shows on-line. That was one in all many GSMA’s first hybrid events, with on-line and in-person entry.

The MWC’s on-line platform shall be built-in with Microsoft merchandise, allowing attendees to affix in video conference assembly rooms.

However usually there isn’t any such factor as an alternative choice to face-to-face conferences, Granryd talked about.

“We are able to construct belief to some extent over digital conferences, however not if it’s a deal price billions, then it’s worthwhile to sit down and look one another within the eye, and that’s why we really feel assured that this can be one thing,” he talked about.


Whereas some worry the absence of huge names will in the reduction of the conference’s attraction, smaller companies are eager to seize the limelight. Over 400 startups will exhibit their latest merchandise on the MWC.

“It is a distinctive alternative for the smaller distributors to stand up and get their message out and possibly turn out to be a giant vendor sooner or later,” talked about Danielle Royston, founding father of cloud consultancy company TelcoDR.

Royston scooped up one in all many largest exhibition stands, measuring 6,000 sq. metres after Ericsson pulled out.

TelcoDR, which obtained the stand at a decreased price nevertheless nonetheless paid a whole lot of 1000’s of {{dollars}}, could have 30 startups that it advises and/or invests in showcasing their merchandise on the gross sales house.

“That is your probability as a small vendor,” she talked about. “We return to the previous manner, subsequent 12 months.”

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