The Mobile World Congress (MWC) will continue this year, but vaccination will not be necessary for attendance when the Barcelona event takes place in June, according to the organizers.
“Our view is that it would be great if the world were vaccinated, but we can not trust it in 2021
Participants must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the event, with on-site testing available. Furthermore, the event organizers claim that they will use some form of “technology” to create a “touchless environment” at the event, which is often at least partially focused on handling smartphones and other devices with touch screens.
As a result of some of these changes, Hoffman said it would be a smaller event than before. “COVID requirements will reduce our capacity,” he said. “We are not going to have 110,000 people. With travel restrictions, test capacity and one-way traffic through the exhibition, there is no way.” He expects no more than 50,000 participants this year.
The Barcelona event usually takes place earlier in the year, but this year it exchanges windows with its cousin in Shanghai, MWC Shanghai. This means that MWC Shanghai will take place in the spring of this year.
GSMA chose to change the timing of the event because China is “more open” than other regions with COVID-related travel restrictions. Hoffman also made the case to Mobile World Live that China is a “bubble” with protection against COVID-19 thanks to the country’s efforts to test for the virus and track its cases.
MWC Shanghai is a smaller event; it had 60,000 participants in 2019. But this year the capacity is set at 20,000. “We could have done it practically,” Hoffman said of the Shanghai conference, “but personally we could learn a lesson” to apply for the greater Barcelona -show later.
The mobile-focused technology conference is expected to focus strongly on the global 5G rollout. Over the past two years, major smartphone makers have released 5G phones, promising to prepare users for a future mobile landscape with radically faster speeds and more reliable services in crowded locations. The 5G rollout is still beginning in most parts of the world.