A view from the Fira: Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2021
As the dust settles at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, following what should be described as a brave and necessary attempt at a return to normal, I wanted to reflect on my first experience of what is usually the largest telecoms event on the planet.
Despite all of the uncertainty and with thanks, I’m sure, to an ample amount of lobbying of the Spanish government, “highly qualified workers” from across the world – which amusingly included myself – were allowed to take flights and descend on the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in June.
MWC is a staple within the telecoms calendar; it’s where the bellwethers of industry come to announce new partnerships, new deployments and new messaging. It’s where the experts come to demonstrate and debate their visions for the future. It’s where the industry concerned with connectivity, connects.
And despite an unsurprisingly scaled back version of the event, all of the above did happen. We heard real examples of how ‘5G’ at the edge was transforming tasks and industries. We heard, from a rockstar client and the undisputed star of the show, how the public cloud represented one of the greatest opportunities for telcos to create efficiencies and supercharge innovation. And we heard from Mr Musk himself, albeit from a virtual version of himself, about Starlink’s ambitions to provide coverage to “everywhere except the poles”, despite the cost.
As the newest member of the Babel team in Barcelona, and an MWC virgin, this was an unrivalled opportunity to dive deep into the subject matter.
But what I enjoyed most of all, and I suspect this is true of everyone who attended in person, was being able to do your job on the ground.
The in-person briefings were back. The coordinating of cameras and production crews. The shepherding of passers-by when you’re live. The impromptu media training sessions. The relationships, the drinks and the dinners.
Whilst much can be said about the accessibility hybrid events provide, and the skill with which the GSMA put on this physical/virtual show, PR is all about fostering and nurturing relationships – and you can’t do that very well over Zoom.
It had been a busy few months leading up to MWC21, with the team securing some great results for our clients at and around the show (keep an eye out for our June coverage blog next month).
I’m reminded by our veteran telecoms team here at Babel that as things return to normal, the lead-up to MWC22 will see another shift in pace as the show and the exhibitors return bigger and bolder. Innovation-led transformation characterises a lot of the developments we see in the sector today and I, for one, cannot wait to see what the show will look like next year as a result.
For anyone excitedly brainstorming plans for Barcelona in February, get in touch with the team today to discuss how we can ensure you cut-through to the audiences that matter to your business.