The Mobile World Congress, the telecommunications industry’s largest annual gathering, will draw more than 30,000 people in a smaller edition in Barcelona next month after the pandemic derailed last year’s event, organizers said Thursday.
The 2020 edition of the event, which usually takes place in February, was canceled at the last minute after dozens of the world’s largest tech and telecommunications companies pulled out over fears of the coronavirus spread.
The GSMA industry association, which is hosting the congress, has planned it this year from June 28th to July 1st. The number of participants is limited to 50,000, compared to a normal number of around 100,000.
This year’s congress will include a mix of in-person and online events. “There is no doubt that the Mobile World Congress in 2021 will be a little different,” GSMA Executive Director John Hoffman said at a press conference.
“How many people are going to participate? We really don’t know, but we are very confident that 30, 40, maybe even 50,000 people will personally attend the Mobile World Congress 2021. “The organizers said there would be 600 speakers that week, 70 percent of whom would be in person.
Several large companies such as Samsung, Amazon, Cisco and Ericsson have pulled out of face-to-face participation and cited virus concerns, although some will attend the event online. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will be the largest company with a physical presence at the show.
“We can’t say anything, they make their decisions, but we make our decisions,” said Hoffman. “But you should know that there are a lot of really, really forward-looking companies out there.” Despite the decline in attendance, organizers were confident that the congress would continue to be useful for doing business.
“A lot of companies used to send 200-300 participants, now maybe five, but they’re the right five,” said GSMA Director General Mats Granryd. “The big numbers won’t be there, but it’s the right number. We hope that we can still have many good, solid business meetings. “
The organizers of the IFA consumer technology trade fair in Berlin canceled their September event on Wednesday, stating that the pandemic had made it impossible to hold a personal event.