Nokia won’t host pre-MWC gathering this year

Breaking with tradition, Nokia says it won't be holding its MWC kick-off event this year.

For many years Nokia has hosted a large gathering on Sunday afternoon in Barcelona, prior to the start of MWC on Monday. The gathering was always a fun way for press and analysts to mingle before the show, enjoying food and drinks (reporters love food and drinks). Nokia usually had some kind of news that it revealed at the event.

Last year, Nokia announced a new branding logo, and it also announced a product suite called anyRAN, in which its RAN software can run on any partner's cloud and server infrastructure in addition to Nokia’s AirScale base stations and AirFrame servers. 

But alas, we didn’t hear much more about anyRAN after last year’s event in Barcelona. Instead, 2023 was pockmarked with negative news for Nokia.

Beginning with Q1, 2023, each of its earnings reports was gloomier than the last. The year culminated with the news that AT&T had chosen to work with Ericsson on a $14 billion open RAN deployment, and it would be ripping out Nokia gear across its network.

And even a recent survey wasn’t positive for Nokia. Some new data from Recon Analytics shows that when global operators were asked which vendor had the best overall radio access network (RAN) portfolios, over 50% of respondents named Ericsson and Samsung as the top two. 

Perhaps not the best year to throw a fun party in Barcelona.

According to GSMA’s website related to vendors who have booked for this year’s conference, Nokia will have one stand at MWC Barcelona in Hall 3. 

  • Ericsson is booked for 2 stands, one in Hall 1 and one in Hall 2.
  • Samsung has booked 5 stands in Halls 2 and 3.
  • Huawei will have 8 stands mostly in Hall 1 and around the South entrance.

Last year, Huawei made a big comeback after three years of a reduced presence at the show* because of Covid.

The Chinese vendor seems to be on a roll after suffering hardships for about five years after it was slammed by the U.S. and some European countries, whose governments claimed that its telecom equipment could be used for spying.

But recently, Huawei has regrouped. And it’s targeting its telecom equipment to everywhere except for North America and some European countries. Huawei refers to its target market as “the rest of the world, or ROW.”

*The story has been corrected to indicate that Huawei did have a presence at MWC in 2021 and 2022.