Vendors big and small shuffle to Plan B after MWC cancellation

Much of the wireless industry would have descended on Barcelona this week. (Pixabay)

With the cancellation of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this year, exhibitors big and small were forced to shift to Plan B, which involves a lot of virtual events and in some cases, taking it on the road.

When it announced its decision on February 7, Ericsson, which was the first to withdraw from the event, said it would take the demos and content created for MWC Barcelona to customers in their home markets with local events called “Ericsson Unboxed.”

Five days later, when rival Nokia announced its decision to cancel due to the novel coronavirus, the company said it would go directly to customers with a series of “Nokia Live” events aimed at showcasing the demos and launches that were scheduled for MWC.

Of course, not everyone has the budget for in-person meetings, and virtual events are front and center for a lot of companies. Qualcomm, which regularly holds a series of briefings with reporters before big events like MWC, scheduled a livestream media event for February 25 featuring Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon and some of its ecosystem partners to talk about the future of 5G.

Others are getting creative in their own ways. Allot, which provides Security-as-a-Service and other products and services for service providers, organized its first-ever Allot Mobile Virtual Conference (MVC) during the week most professionals would have been in Barcelona, featuring a demo tour, live talks and Q&As, analyst sessions and more. Big perk: Attendees can join from the comfort of their office, or anywhere, to talk with Allot experts about ways to generate new revenues.

Another vendor with a bevy of solutions for service providers, A10, set up a Tweet chat and plans a series of virtual social events and meetings to discuss its latest product enhancements.

“While we are no longer traveling to the event, our leadership team is still available to meet with you, either locally or via video conference, to share what we have learned about best practices for hyperscale 5G security from some of the world’s largest mobile operators,” Gunter Reiss, VP of worldwide marketing at A10, told customers and prospective clients in a statement.

Mavenir, which has been positioning itself as a disruptor in the network space, said it will showcase its demos in customer road shows, and it has a lot to talk about, including OpenRAN, vRAN, 5G core, RCS business messaging, network security and digital enablement/enterprise apps. In addition, it will be staging a virtual briefing for industry analysts in March.

Lost opportunities

Mavenir and other software-focused vendors like Altiostar and Parallel Wireless have been championing open RAN architectures, and MWC would have given them a huge stage on which to share their agendas.

“It is a big blow with MWC20 cancelled as MWC represents collaboration, visibility, connecting with customers for small and big companies,” said Eugina Jordan, vice president of marketing at Parallel Wireless, via email. “Smaller companies that were looking for prospects at MWC20 will get hit the hardest I think. If MWC cancellation happened 4-5 years ago when we were just starting out and were meeting with prospects at MWC, it would have altered our path definitely – would have made it harder.”

Parallel had big plans to appear on multiple MWC panels, meet with press and analysts and do demos at the much larger stands of Vodafone, Cisco, Amazon and TIP. To make the most of those demos, it had planned to record them and share in other mediums.

From a visibility and awareness perspective, Parallel Wireless would have been everywhere at the show. “We will still be everywhere in 2020 and beyond, but on our digital channels and through our webinars and customer announcements,” Jordan said.