GSMA Pulling Out All Stops to Make MWC 2021 an In-Person Event

Article By : John Walko

MWC 2021 in June will be an in-person event, though with a limit on the number of attendees. Several major exhibitors will not be there live.

The GSMA is pulling out all stops to ensure its showpiece Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2021 goes ahead as an in-person event as scheduled in June, even as some of the biggest names in the sector have already withdrawn their participation.

The Association has managed to persuade the Spanish government to grant all registered attendees “highly qualified worker” status for the duration of the show.

The country has a tough ban in place for overseas visitors, but the GSMA has managed to persuade the Spanish authorities to drop the prohibition to “non-essential” travelers, including those from the US and China and any national from a country outside of the European Union.

In a statement the GSMA said  that “whilst there is a current denial of entry to Spain for any national from a country outside the European Union, exceptions apply to specific groups of people…and this now includes MWC  Barcelona registrants.”

John Hoffman, the CEO of the Association, said : “This decision is a resounding vote of confidence in the careful planning undertaken to date, and our strong partnership with the host city parties. We will continue to work closely with our partners to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience.”

The GSMA has made major changes to its registration process and share attendees’ details with the authorities to secure the concessions. However, those from “high-risk Covid -19 countries” will still be excluded. The countries included on the Spanish government’s list are regularly updated and changed where necessary.

Whether those “partners” include the myriad of exhibitors that have already withdrawn from the in-person aspect of the show remains to be seen.  All attendees will still need proof of a negative Covid test, and all will need to wear masks at all times.

And whether the companies and individuals will feel comfortable traveling to and staying in Spain, which has a high rate of infection, also remains to be seen.

The organizers have indicated they will limit attendance to a maximum of 50,000, well below the numbers usually flocking to attend the annual MWC in Barcelona.

Earlier this year, the GSMA laid out a tough regime to limit the potential risks of catching or transmitting Covvid-19, including negative tests every 72 hours.  Numerous rapid testing facilities will be provided.

Companies that have already indicated they will not have a physical presence  but continue to participate in the on-line  arrangements includes Ericsson (which was the first to withdraw), Nokia, Intel, BT, Cisco,  Google, InterDigital, Cisco, Sony  and Google.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

John Walko is a technology writer and editor who has been covering the electronics industry since the early 1980s. He started tracking the sector while working on one of the UK’s oldest weekly technology titles, The Engineer, then moved to CMP’s flagship UK weekly, Electronics Times, in a variety of roles including news deputy and finally editor in chief. He then joined the online world when CMP started the EDTN Network, where he edited the daily electronics feed and was founding editor of (which, over the years, has become the Wireless and Networking Designline). He was editor of EE Times Europe at its launch and subsequently held various positions on EE Times, in the latter years, covering the growing wireless and mobile sectors.

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