MWC 2021 exclusive: world's biggest mobile show will happen, with 'virtual elements'

(Image credit: Future)

MWC 2020 was one of the first big events in tech to cancel because of the risk of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the organizing body has been preparing for the 2021 show ever since.

The GSMA - the body that hosts Mobile World Congress - has confirmed to TechRadar that it plans for next year's show to go ahead, but it is not ruling out a virtual alternative.

A spokesperson for the GSMA told TechRadar, "We are working to ensure MWC 2021 is an unmissable event. We are constantly monitoring the situation, as we did with MWC 2020. This includes seeking expert health and safety advice.

"The situation is complex and new. We are learning all the time and working with Fira and our partners to take all actions that ensure a safe environment and an inspiring experience. "

CES 2021, which is another tech event usually hosted in Las Vegas at the start of the year, has now been confirmed to be a virtual-only show for next year

Mobile World Congress's next show is currently set for March 1 in 2021, so will happen a few months after CES. If the pandemic continues, that may mean the show is forced to switch to a virtual format in a similar way to CES.

The GSMA spokesperson said, "MWC 20 taught us to remain flexible and to pivot quickly to emergent information. 

"In addition to physical changes, we are developing a communications plan to ensure all stakeholder groups have the latest information from the GSMA with regularity.

"It is important now, more than ever, for the GSMA to convene the industry as we work together to address global financial recovery. In person-events are key to this recovery and we know the value of people being together."

What if you can't attend?

The company is already planning to host some elements of the show virtually, especially for those who won't be able to travel to Barcelona even if the event does go ahead. 

With travel restrictions in place for most countries around the globe, it may be these continue into 2021 and restrict those that can attend next year's show. Attendees come to Barcelona, Spain, from all over the world for MWC.

The spokesperson said, "At MWC, there were 2 million meetings, millions in deals done and valuable social interaction that bonds our industry. For those unable to travel at that time, we are working on making some elements available virtually."

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.