GSMA cancels Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress

GSMA cancels Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress

13 February 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The GSMA has bowed to what became inevitable and cancelled Mobile World Congress, the 100,000-strong event that was due to start in Barcelona in just over a week.

John Hoffman, the CEO of GSMA Ltd, the mobile association’s commercial arm, said the decision was taken “because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event”.

He – and the GSMA board – had been agonising for days over what to do. Some companies whose senior executives are on the board, including Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo and Orange, had already announced they were no longer coming to Barcelona because of the risks of coronavirus.

A week ago Ericsson became the first big equipment vendor to pull out. Nokia followed yesterday. Others to say no to MWC included Facebook and Intel, making it increasingly likely that large areas of the eight-hall Fira Europa in Barcelona would be left empty.

The GSMA said it will be back in Barcelona next year. It is also due to hold MWC Shanghai in China on 30 June to 2 July, though that undoubtedly depends on the progress of the disease over the next four months. MWC Los Angeles is set for 28-30 October.