GSMA hoping for up to 50,000 to attend MWC Barcelona

GSMA hoping for up to 50,000 to attend MWC Barcelona

20 May 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The mobile industry’s trade association is hoping up to 50,000 people will attend its delayed Barcelona show in person at the end of June.

However, Mats Granryd (pictured), director-general of the GSMA, told a press conference in the city this morning that predictions are “out of the window” for Mobile World Congress (MWC) because of Covid.

John Hoffman, CEO of the GSMA’s commercial arm, said “we really don’t know” how many will attend: “30, 40, maybe 50,000 will attend in person”.

Granryd said the organisation, which represents virtually all mobile operators, has “only best estimates”.

The GSMA will consolidate all events at the Fira Gran Via site, abandoning the Montjuïc which for the past few years has hosted start-ups — and where MWC was originally held from 2006 until it moved to the larger site.

At its peak in 2019 — before the pandemic forced the abandonment of the 2020 event — 109,000 people attended.

Granryd told the press conference that in-person meetings were a way of building trust. “The only way of doing that is to physically meet up.”

The GSMA also confirmed that the 2022 show will be back in its usual slot in February. It was moved to the summer this year so the organisation could hold its Shanghai event in February.

Hoffman said that “it’s been a superhuman effort” to put on the show in Barcelona, which is due to run from 28 June to 1 July.

Granryd said the GSMA was expecting 300 keynote speakers, of whom 70% will attend in person, with the rest appearing virtually.

MWC will continue in Barcelona until at least 2024, said Hoffman.