The prospects of Mobile World Congress 2021 in Barcelona don’t look all that promising, with big exhibitors dropping out left and right, but the GSMA expects to return live and in person this October with its show in Los Angeles. The dates are October 26-28.
Items on the agenda include 5G, IoT connectivity, telco cloud and “disrupted innovation.” The theme is “Connected Impact,” which seems appropriate given the impact that connectivity had on people during the Covid-19 pandemic – both for the “haves” and “have-nots.”
“MWC Los Angeles is the must-attend tech industry event of the Americas and, we are very much looking forward to returning to California. MWCLA21 provides a platform for people to come together to push the industry and society forward,” said GSMA CEO John Hoffman in a statement.
“California has already started to reopen and the GSMA is working closely with the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and the LACC to ensure MWCLA21 can go ahead safely,” Hoffman added. “Our focus will be delivering an unprecedented, attention-grabbing display of next-level innovation, emerging technology and, ground-breaking products and services.”
This year, lead event sponsors are T-Mobile and Verizon, which, even though they tend to go after one another with daggers in most every other respect, will be official “event partners.” Basically, that just means T-Mobile will be the official Event Carrier Partner (despite it being the “un-carrier,”) and Verizon being the official Event 5G Partner.
The event also features focused deep-dive summits, including “Edge” from Intel, “RCS” from Zipwhip, “5G Security” from Palo Alto Networks and “eSIM” from KORE. In addition, DASpedia will co-locate its 5G Congress PropTech conference with MWCLA21.
CTIA will again host its “Everything Policy” track with U.S. policymakers and wireless industry stakeholders discussing trends and developments in government and public policy.
RELATED: GSMA nixes MWC Los Angeles
Last year, GSMA had to cancel MWC LA due to ongoing health concerns and travel restrictions after already canceling the Barcelona show and Shanghai 2020.
According to GSMA, nearly 22,000 attendees from more than 100 countries gathered for the U.S. event in past years. That compares to about 100,000 attendees from more than 200 countries that typically turned out for the Barcelona event.
To be clear, the 2021 event in Barcelona is happening as an in-person event and virtually. Last month, GSMA executives said they expect between 30,000 and 50,000 attendees at MWC21 Barcelona, Reuters reported. The dates are June 28 to July 1.
Still, the situation looks better for the Los Angeles event. “I suspect there will be a lot of interest from companies that backed out of MWC Barcelona to get back on the circuit, and Los Angeles could provide the ideal place to do that,” said GlobalData analyst John Byrne. “Plus you have companies like Dell that will be looking to MWC LA to solidify their growing role in telco networks.”
That said, there are still plenty of places that will be struggling with COVID-19 and related travel restrictions so it could be more of a domestic event than usual, he noted. And while these times have been difficult for the GSMA, which had to lay off staff last year, the physical Barcelona event later this month followed by MWC LA should hopefully provide a good springboard for 2022, he said.