Vodafone confirms limited physical presence at MWC

UK operator group Vodafone won’t be running a physical stand at Mobile World congress later this month but hopes people will visit its virtual one.

Spanish media reported the matter as if it was something new, however we understand the GSMA, which runs MWC, has been aware of Vodafone’s position for some time. The reason, of course, is that the Covid pandemic is proving to irritatingly persistent and there is still considerable hassle associated with international travel.

Here’s Vodafone’s statement: “Vodafone remains fully committed to Mobile World Congress, as the key event of the industry and governments to come together on a shared vision for how to connect our economies and maximise the benefits of digitisation for all citizens and businesses. Convening the mobile ecosystem worldwide is all the more important in light of recent experiences. We welcome the steps that GSMA has taken to facilitate participation that best suits the customer.

“For Vodafone, this means that we will participate in a mixed virtual and physical capacity this year. We’ll be leveraging our virtual digital presence and there will be a few Executive Committee members going to Barcelona who have Keynotes or other commitments. Opting for a hybrid presence with no employee travel is consistent with our global health & safety policy to safeguard Vodafone employees during this pandemic.”

It could have been shorter and clearer, but as a board member of the GSMA, Vodafone has to find a way of not physically attending in as supportive a way as it can. We have confirmed it means there won’t be a physical stand that the whole thing is consistent with the group-wide policy of only essential business travel being authorised.

The El Economista report also inferred Deutsche Telekom had pulled out of having a physical presence at the show. We haven’t heard from DT but maybe the story is the same there, with the GSMA having known for some time but keeping the news to itself. While the public statements are all about health, the fact that many countries are insisting on onerous measures such as quarantine the moment anyone travels means only the most determined are likely to make it to MWC 2021.

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