The organizer of Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest mobile technology event, has confirmed that MWC 2022 will be a “very physical show”.
A series of companies (including Lenovo, Asus and Sony) recently announced they would not have a physical presence at MWC 2022 due to concerns over the dangers posed by the Omicron variant. A spokesperson for Intel also told TechRadar Pro the company remains undecided as to whether it will attend in-person.
However, speaking to press ahead of MWC 2022, the GSMA moved to dismiss speculation that the physical show in Barcelona will be watered down in any respect.
MWC 2022 will be ‘physical-first’
The latest edition of MWC is set to kick off on February 28, bringing together many of the largest companies in the mobile industry, from device manufacturers to network operators and more.
According to John Hoffmann and Mats Granryd, CEO and Director General at the GSMA, this year’s show will feature upwards of 1,500 exhibitors from more than 150 countries. There will also be more than 1,000 speakers at the event, 95% of whom will attend in-person.
The pair said they are expecting between 40,000 and 60,000 attendees to descend on the Fira Gran Via exhibition center (as compared with circa 110,000 in 2019, the last pre-pandemic edition), roughly half of whom will be “director-level” decision makers.
Although neither Hoffmann nor Granryd referred explicitly to the brands that have dropped out of the show, it was clear the intention of the press conference was to reiterate the GSMA’s intentions to make MWC 2022 the grand return to in-person events.
“As we’ve always said, health and safety is paramount to MWC. It was pre-pandemic and it is now during the pandemic. We will take the guidance of the health authorities here in Catalonia,” said Hoffman, who also explained that social distancing and mask wearing will be required at the event.
“[But] it’s a year we’ll move back to physical in very broad numbers, and the growth trajectory is exciting.”
Although the GSMA is treating MWC 2022 as a physical-first event, the organization will livestream all keynotes and many panel sessions online, in recognition that the world has not yet completely opened up.
“It’s a global in-person event, augmented with virtual programs delivered to your door,” Hoffman added.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.