A few high-profile companies, including Ericsson, Huawei, Telefonica, Parallel Wireless and AT&T, confirmed to Light Reading that they intend to send executives to Barcelona, Spain, in June to attend the MWC trade show in person.
But a large number of other companies, including Mavenir, Cisco, Intel, Rakuten, KPN, Deutsche Telekom, BT and Orange, said they either would not attend or were still making a decision. Other companies contacted by Light Reading, including T-Mobile, Qualcomm, Verizon, Samsung and LG, did not respond to questions on the topic.
The GSMA trade association recently held its MWC Shanghai show as a hybrid event, and said it expected around 20,000 in-person visitors. That's down from the 60,000 it recorded in 2019, prior to the pandemic.
The organization rescheduled its flagship Barcelona show for June this year, and GSMA officials told Mobile World Live that the organization expects to attract 40,000 and 50,000 attendees, down from around 110,000 two years ago, prior to the pandemic.
So which companies are planning to attend this Barcelona show this year? Here are the companies that confirmed to Light Reading that they will be there in person, and what company representatives said in response to questions about how many people they might send, whether they're planning to have a booth at the show, and what COVID-19 precautions they might be taking.
Parallel Wireless: "We have reserved the space at the show (same location as previously in Hall 5) and are monitoring the situation. Looks like GSMA has some really good plans to keep attendees safe for MWC Shanghai and MWC Barcelona. But it is too soon to tell what situation will be in June in Spain. Our people are our most important asset. So, we will be only sending people that feel comfortable going. Also, the number of people will depend on what customer activities we plan on supporting. We will be meeting current and any future local and in-countries regulations in regards to COVID-19. Our plans ... will be revisited regularly depending on all factors."
AT&T: "While we are watching COVID-19 infection rates and vaccination rollout closely, we do intend to be there. We'll follow all health organizations guidelines, including today's ordinances of wearing masks, physical distancing, etc." AT&T said it is still deciding how many executives to send.
Ericsson: "Ericsson's top priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders. For Mobile World Congress 2021 in Barcelona, Ericsson has signed up for our regular space in Hall 2 of La Fira, and plan accordingly. Should there be indications that the global pandemic remains a risk factor as we get closer to the event, we independently review our decision."
Huawei: "If MWC Barcelona is going to be hosted as usual, Huawei will also attend the show. Currently Huawei headquarters is preparing and making progress according to GSMA's instructions."
Telefónica: "Telefónica will be there, regardless of the format GSMA chooses to hold the event, but no specifics to share at this stage."
Maybes and noes
Others, however, were not so sure about their plans. "We're evaluating our options and looking forward to an update from the GMSA," Intel said.
"We don't know yet what will happen," Mavenir said.
Cisco, KPN, DT, BT and Orange offered similarly firm "maybes" in response to questions on whether they would attend in person. Light Reading, too, can be added to this wait-and-see category.
Finally, a few companies don't plan to attend at all. "I don't believe we're sending anyone from Rakuten even if they're based in the European Union," said Rakuten.
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Light Reading's Iain Morris contributed to this report.