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MWC 2022 was a resounding success despite everything

The return of Mobile World Congress went better than many people thought it would, especially considering the difficult circumstances around it.

At the start of the week we reflected on the unique nature of this year’s MWC, which was the first full Barcelona event for three years and took place in the shadow of the distressing conflict in Ukraine. We hoped attendees would take the opportunity to celebrate our industry, remind ourselves how important face-to-face meetings are, and generally try to have a bit of a laugh.

We’re delighted to reflect that’s exactly what seems to have happened. On the Monday morning we feared attendance may not even hit the half-capacity anticipated by the GSMA, but by lunchtime the halls were buzzing and, if still less full than pre-pandemic times, were certainly full enough. From our conversations, we’ve received attendance estimates in the 60 thousand range, which isn’t bad at all under the circumstances.

Furthermore, the consensus of people we spoke to was that the reduced attendance made for a much more pleasant experience. Massive though it is, when you cram 100 thousand people into the Fira it makes getting around the place very difficult. While bumping into people is an intrinsic part of the trade show experience, it’s not meant literally, but in previous years the stress of constantly having to play human dodgems was a distinct negative.

Which brings us to the only real negative from this year – the hall monitors. The show employed a small army of young people, identified as ‘community agents’ by their uniform green vests, to police every inch of the show floor and enforce the strict mask mandate. The fact that we would have to wear masks at the show was priced-in and accepted, regrettable, and in our opinion needless, as it was. But to be constantly hectored and told-off for even the most fleeting lapse was trying.

That aside, the overwhelming consensus seemed to be that MWC 2022 exceeded everyone’s expectations. The cliché that ‘people do business with people’ was reinforced once more and, at times, it felt more like a school reunion than a trade show. It really was great to see everyone again and our only regret is that the success of this year’s show makes it likely it will soon return to its overpopulated pomp.

Perhaps because people were more interested in catching up than talking shop, there was no single dominant technological theme. Of course we’re still talking about 5G and, a couple of years into its rollout, the industry is still trying to define what the point of it is. The metaverse and public cloud were less conspicuous than we had expected them to be, but remained two major elephants in the room nonetheless. Instead this year’s theme was friendship – an especially poignant one given the broader circumstances – and we’re happy to raise a glass to that.


6 comments

  1. Avatar Ben Bannister 03/03/2022 @ 1:40 pm

    Really good to hear that the event was a success and that people at last have had an opportunity to meet and re-acquaint.

  2. Avatar Rodolfo Di Muro 03/03/2022 @ 1:50 pm

    the theme of MWC is Connectivity unleashed !
    Your final statement seems come out of the blue: Instead this year’s theme was friendship – an especially poignant one given the broader circumstances – and we’re happy to raise a glass to that.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 03/03/2022 @ 2:29 pm

      I was referring to the theme on the show floor as opposed to the event marketing.

  3. Avatar Martin Morgan 03/03/2022 @ 3:06 pm

    Fully agree. The show was a success. If you asked me in late December if MWC22 would go ahead I’d have said it would have been postponed to the summer. So fair play to the GSMA for sticking with it. The best part of the show was meeting people that you’ve not seen in person for over 2 years.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 03/03/2022 @ 6:05 pm

      Totally

  4. Avatar Tracy Bottomley 03/03/2022 @ 3:21 pm

    Let’s not forget though, Halls 8 and 8.1 were not there and 4YFN took over Hall 6 so there is the illusion of being busy. Operators sent fewer delegates and the quality was good. A surprisingly good event. Unfortunately the Big Beast’ will be back soon and a less pleasurable experience. Quality is what matters 😄

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