The organisers of the Mobile World Congress, the telecommunications industry’s biggest annual gathering, said on Wednesday they were postponing next year’s event to late June 2021 to make it possible to convene safely despite the coronavirus pandemic.
MWC 2021, originally scheduled for early March, will now be held in Barcelona, Spain — its usual venue — from 28 June to 1 July. This year’s congress was cancelled at the last minute as the virus spread around the world.
The event, which combines a glitzy trade show with a frenzy of executive networking, will be face to face but numbers attending will be down from the 110 000 delegates who usually converge in the Catalan capital.It’s going to be physical.
“It’s going to be physical. It’s going to be face to face. But it’s going to have a bigger virtual component,” said Mats Granryd, director-general of the GSMA, the telecoms industry association that hosts the congress.
“Having 110 000-plus events is less interesting — getting the right people is more interesting,” he added.
The delay seeks to buy time to strengthen hygiene precautions. Granryd expressed hope that, by then, it will be possible to take quick Covid-19 tests while vaccines now under development may also be available.
The GSMA will also bring forward the Chinese edition of the Mobile World Congress, held in Shanghai, to late February in what amounts to a calendar swap with the main Barcelona event.