MWC 2021 rescheduled for late June to contend with COVID-19


MWC is a highlight of the tech calendar.

Matthias Oesterle/Corbis via Getty Images

Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile show, takes place every year in Barcelona, Spain — every year except this year, that is. The 2020 show, which was scheduled for late February, was one of the first major tech events to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But while MWC 2020 didn’t take place at all, the expectation now is that MWC 2021 will — albeit with a delay.

With COVID-19 still circulating around the world, the show’s organizers have decided to play it safe and schedule the show for next June instead of its usual February dates. In an announcement on Tuesday, the GSMA said the show would take place between June 28 and July. 1. A smaller, China-based event, MWC Shanghai, has been moved to take place in February.

“With a continuously changing global outlook and following consultation with our board and membership and our top exhibitors, we have taken the careful decision to reschedule MWC21 Shanghai in February, and MWC21 Barcelona in June,” said GSMA Director General Mats Granryd in a statement. “The health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees, staff and the people of Barcelona are of paramount importance.”

MWC serves as a platform for many top technology companies, including LG, Samsung and Huawei, to show off their latest flagship devices and also for industry leaders such as Qualcomm, Ericsson and the major mobile carriers to discuss and announce the latest developments in 5G.

MWC 2020 was just the first of the tech events this year to be disrupted by the global pandemic, which forced the majority of tech companies to hold online launch events and virtual developer conferences rather than gathering a large number of people in one location as they normally would. One exception was IFA, which took place in Berlin as usual, but with reduced visitor numbers and a virtual component to allow people to take part from home.

Now, with no end to the pandemic in sight, organizers are starting to look forward to 2021 and make alternative plans. Back in July, the CTA announced that CES 2021 would also be an all-digital event. The GSMA said MWC, which usually attracts 100,000 attendees from around the world, will also be complemented by a digital component to prevent too many people from having to convene physically.

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