Barcelona’S Mobile Phone Is Teetering On Its Saddest Anniversary

2021-02-12   |   by CusiGO

Today, February 13, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (mwc2020) was officially suspended for one year for fear of coronavirus. Twelve months later, the covid-19 virus, which had little news at that time except in China, had become an epidemic and spread to all over the world, causing millions of infections and deaths. Nevertheless, the organizers of the world’s largest technical conference made it clear this week that the 2021 World Cup will be held “face-to-face” from June 28 to July 1 this year. The central government of Catalonia and the government of Catalonia also agree with this statement, but the reality seems to contradict them. The pavilion is still empty, with no hotel or travel bookings at all, companies closing down, no scheduled events, and most importantly, the soaring infection rate indicates that the event is once again postponed or held in a purely virtual way until it is unrecognizable.

It started in February 2020. Coronavirus hardly appears in the secondary news or even pages of newspapers. As a strange virus from China, it is another. Fernando Simon, already the Health Emergency Coordinator at that time, has just solemnly announced that “there will not be a case in Spain at most. He added that he hoped there would be no local transmission, even in this case it would be “very limited and highly controlled.”. Like Simon, the mayor of Barcelona, ADA colau, the government and GSMA, the association of operators that organized the event, denied that there were any health risks associated with the MWC. But on February 4, the South Korean company LG announced that it would not travel to Barcelona to maintain “the health and safety of customers, partners and employees.”. All the alarms went off. Over the next few days, a number of companies, including multinationals such as Facebook, Intel, at & T or Vodafone, supported the boycott. Finally, on February 13, GSMA gave up and officially cancelled the event.

One year later, the health condition deteriorated significantly, but the optimism of organizers and authorities for the event remained unchanged. Spain is one of the countries with the largest number of deaths, and Catalonia is the second autonomous region after Madrid to die from cumulative infectious diseases. Vaccination rates also failed to meet the government’s forecast that 70% of the population would be vaccinated before the summer.

Nevertheless, John Hoffman, chief executive of GSMA, said yesterday that despite the pandemic, MWC will return to Barcelona in 2021, although “it will be a different event from previous sessions”, with fewer tourists and strict safety measures to prevent infection.

“We have made significant progress on this, and now we are 100% focused on bringing the event back to the scene in person from June 28 to July 1 this year,” the head of GSMA said in a statement to the media, It brings together 800 mobile operators and more than 200 technology companies around the world.

As for itself, Ramon tremosa, Minister of government, enterprise and knowledge, said a few days ago that the world’s largest mobile phone Fair will be held in Barcelona this year, when “all necessary checks” will be carried out because “the demand for attendance is very high”.

The precedent is not as pleasant as Hoffman and government officials describe it. Las Vegas ESC, the second largest global technology event after MWC, also promised to be held in 2021 last fall. But in the end, its organizers had to correct and digitize the entire event, which took place from January 11 to 14. Results: the number of exhibitors has decreased from 4000 to 1800; technological development does not matter, the number of digital assistants has decreased from 170000 (physical) assistants in 2020 to 100000.

At present, about one fifth of the original area of Fira holding MWC has not occupied the 100000 square meters reserved for the event. Pavilion 2 and 3 are almost completed, accommodating major companies from operators (Telef รณ Nica, NTT, China Mobile, Vodafone and orange) and equipment and network manufacturers (Huawei, Samsung, ZTE, Lenovo, Nokia, HP, Intel, ZTE or Microsoft), respectively. But according to industry insiders, there is still a long way to go to the eighth place. For example, the Spanish Pavilion gathered 65 companies last year to showcase the best national projects related to the mobile industry. In this version, if all the seats provided were covered, it would only reach 48.

However, occupancy is determined by an agreement between GSMA and the main players (as well as GSMA’s own partners) to automatically update the booth to save the 2021 version and avoid compensation. Other companies are proposed to take back 50% of their investment and 50% of their credit to participate in the next version. Only smaller companies (with fees of up to GBP 5000 or EUR 5500) have the right to recover all their investments. Without this commitment, MWC’s space reserves will be significantly reduced in 2021.

“Only Chinese companies, especially Huawei, have made deployment similar to last year. Others prefer to wait and see. In fact, on Saturdays and Sundays before the official launch of MWC, the presentations of mobile phones and devices were concentrated here, and the media was the most attractive. What we didn’t record was that we didn’t rent any large space inside or outside Fira, “said a manufacturer with a strong business in Spain.

Like other cancelled conventions, the arrival of thousands of tourists not only affects the organization of the event, but also the city itself, It seems illogical to expel managers who are unable to leave the hotel through curfews or the closure of institutions and restaurants that the government has been implementing. “We haven’t decided which teams will play in MWC. We didn’t book another year’s hotel at least six months in advance. A spokesman for a large telecom company said: “it’s hard to force a manager to go through all kinds of checks every day and serve masked customers so that when he leaves, he will be locked in his room.”.

The fact that hotel bookings and air tickets are virtually non-existent in Barcelona testifies to the extreme caution of the participants in planning the conference, many of whom are betting on purely virtual events until liquidity limits and health conditions Let’s go back to the life of MWC. The alternative would be to postpone it again at the end of the year (GSMA decided in September last year to postpone the 2021 version from March 1 to June 28) or finally suspend it. No one wants to give up a second time.