Mobile World Congress 2021 delayed to 28 June

The telecoms industry’s headline trade show will be disrupted, at the very least, by the COVID-19 pandemic for the second year running.

There was high drama earlier this year when major exhibitors pulled out of MWC 2020 in response to the growing threat posed by the novel coronavirus outbreak, even before it was declared a pandemic. Mobile industry trade body the GSMA was eventually forced to pull the plug on the event and even more eventually came to a settlement with exhibitors and attendees that incentivised them to rebook for next year.

Now that the world seems determined to massively over-react to the fact that COVID-19 is now endemic by shutting everything down again, it’s hard to see how things will have blown over by early March 2021, which is when next year’s MWC was scheduled for. So the GSMA had made the sensible decision to delay the event until 28 June.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support of all our partners and clients who remain dedicated to ensuring MWC21 Barcelona is a success,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd. “MWC is more than just an event. It’s an experience that brings the whole industry together and provides a platform to unlock the power of connectivity so that people, industry and society thrive.”

It’s also a great excuse to visit the wonderful city of Barcelona and go out every night, an experience that would be massively diminished by the need to wear face masks, not to mention the impossibility of ‘social distancing’ in such circumstances. On the other hand, it will probably be hot as hell.

This seems like a sensible move by the GSMA, although the Shanghai event has been brought forward to February for some reason. It’s possible that we will emerge from the European Winter with the understanding that the sensible thing to do is just let healthy people get the bug, while protecting the vulnerable, but it’s unlikely. This delay offers the best chance of having an event next year, which is what everyone wants, not least the GSMA accountants.

  • MWC19 Los Angeles

  • MWC20 Barcelona


  1. Avatar Grim Reaper 23/09/2020 @ 1:24 pm

    Game over for the GSMA. Absolutely incredible that the board has allowed the current ‘Leadership’ team to remain. Time for Mats, John, Louise, Laxmi and all the other clowns to step down. RIP.

  2. Avatar WhyNot 25/09/2020 @ 9:18 am

    End of June in Barcelona it’s going to be hot and sticky!!! Make sure you dress appropriately and have water with you at all times if your going.
    GSMA no longer has the workforce to be able to host the 2 events so close to each other. So that is why they would need to bring Asia one forward.
    About the leadership team, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. But it’s fair to say that the decisions made to save their wages are questionable.

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