The GSMA, the world's biggest wireless industry trade association, said it expects its main US trade show to attract roughly the same number of attendees and exhibitors as the event did last year. That's noteworthy considering US operators have been touting their 5G network deployment progress throughout much of 2019, as well as the potential of the technology to create a "fourth industrial revolution," as Verizon executives are fond of saying.
Reed Peterson, the GSMA's "showrunner" for the MWC Los Angeles event, said the association is expecting 22,000 to 23,000 attendees at this year's show, which is scheduled to run October 22-24. He also said there will be around 800 exhibitors and sponsors, and that those numbers are roughly similar to those from last year's event.
Peterson said the GSMA is working to attract high-level executives to the show rather than focusing on growing the overall number of attendees, though he suggested the event could grow in overall size in the future.
There is one significant difference in this year's show, though: It has a new name. Last year's event was called "MWC Americas," but this year Peterson said the GSMA is focusing on three big events in three of the world's largest cities: Barcelona, Shanghai and Los Angeles. While the Barcelona show, held in February every year, remains the global wireless industry's top trade event, the GSMA is working to generate momentum around "MWC Los Angeles" for the American market and "MWC Shanghai" for the Asian market.
The GSMA also operates a number of other smaller, more targeted events under the "GSMA Mobile 360" banner in cities around the globe ranging from Mexico City to Moscow.
The CTIA -- the main lobbying association for the US wireless industry -- previously held two major trade shows in the US every year, but the association teamed with the GSMA in 2017, and the GSMA has been hosting a MWC-branded trade show in the fall in the US since. Peterson confirmed that the association's US show would be held in Los Angeles again in 2020, but that the trade group isn't necessarily tied to any particular city for its events.
Peterson said that 5G, IoT, AI and "intelligence connectivity" will be the main themes at this year's MWC Los Angeles show. Keynote speakers include executives from the likes of Viacom, Verizon, Nokia, Intel and HP, as well as the chairman of the FCC.
This year's show is important considering Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have all launched 5G services in one form or another, though their deployments are very much in the early stages. Although no vendor or operator has yet scheduled any major press events at MWC Los Angeles, it's reasonable to assume that future 5G rollout plans -- including details of nationwide 5G on lowband spectrum -- may be revealed at the show.