GSMA expects MWC 2022 to be half its pre-pandemic size

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Mobile trade body the GSMA, which runs the Mobile World Congress trade show, said it expects around 50,000 attendees at the event later this month.

To put that into context, last year’s MWC attracted 20,000 brave masked-up souls, who risked quarantine and Bon Jovi to attend the Barcelona show in person. Apparently around 100,000 ‘unique virtual and daily viewers’ got involved remotely in some capacity.

So things are recovering, as you’d expect, since by any measure Covid is a less alarming prospect than it was this time last year, however the baseline will always be pre-pandemic numbers. Back in 2019, that innocent time when the only mask you’d see at an airport belonged to the stag do, the show attracted 109,000 attendees.

Director General of the GSMA Mats Granryd and CEO John Hoffman took to the stage in a pre-show press event, saying it was ‘time to come together physically’, and this emphasis on MWC 2022 being a physical event was repeated throughout the conference. Apparently 95% of the speakers will be there in person, for instance, which might stand to reason but bear in mind a good chunk of MWC 2021 was virtual.

Key themes from the show were listed as 5G, IoT, AI, Fintech, and cloud (which has probably been true of all recent shows). Here are some other statistics it pulled out:

There were also some time spent explaining some diversity programmes the GSMA has set up at the show designed to encourage more inclusion. It boasted that 35% of speakers were female, and simultaneously regretted that this was not great but is getting better.

There was also a segment dedicated to saying how much money MWC pumps into the region. This year it will apparently bring a €240 million boost to Barcelona, and create 7000 part time jobs. It claims since 2005, it has generated made a €5.3 billion economic impact to the region, and created 141,000 jobs. It also thanked various Spanish and Catalonian organisations and authorities for helping it put on the show, and brought them on stage to show off their masks.

, GSMA expects MWC 2022 to be half its pre-pandemic size

As anyone who has navigated the travel, accommodation, and show entry booking process for MWC 2022 will be aware, the pandemic and by extension certain restrictions are still very much in play. This is a crucial year for the GSMA, and while there was probably a lot of slack given last year while we were still in the thick of it, how much visitor numbers continue to be impacted will be the key question going forwards.

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