Coronavirus concern cancels mobile industry’s biggest event, what now?

Posted in News on 27 February 2020


On February 12th 2020 we heard the unfortunate news that the mobile industry’s biggest event, Mobile World Congress (MWC), had been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Though the cancellation news is disappointing, it is understandable that public health and safety is a priority for the event organisers, GSMA.


MWC20 cancelled

The new coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to WHO, as of February 12th there had been 45,171 confirmed cases of the virus globally. Since that point, the outbreak and its death toll has continued to grow. On what would have been the closing day of MWC 2020 there were 82,294 global confirmed cases of COVID-19 (data retrieved from WHO situation report - as of 27 February 2020).

The GSMA cancellation statement said that travel concern and other circumstances had made it impossible for the event to be held. This announcement came after a domino effect of major companies withdrawing from the event. These included Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Amazon, who felt that attending the event was too much of a health risk to take.

If you were due to attend MWC you’re probably still thinking, what now? Here are some points to consider.


MWC Shorts

In the absence of the live show, the GSMA has launched MWC Shorts – publishing short, webinar-like videos online showcasing thought leadership that would have taken place at MWC. These videos can provide you with a window into the information sharing that you were hoping for by attending MWC.


Keep up to date in other ways

If staying up to date with the latest technical innovations was one of your primary reasons for attending MWC, you can still do this in other ways. There are hundreds of other informative events happening globally throughout the year that you can learn from.

An event that is set to offer a synthesized view of what was due to occur at MWC is the BCN2020 LATAM Summit taking place online March 17-18, 2020. Since it is a virtual event, you don’t have to physically be there in order to network with industry professionals and learn about the latest progression in tech. It also minimises your risk of exposure to coronavirus.

In addition, staying connected through industry newsletters and groups is key for technology officers to stay in-the-know about all things tech. Capacity Media, Total Telecom and Mobile World Live are just a few of our favourites.


Product launch news

MWC is the place that manufacturers usually showcase their latest and greatest product lines, particularly to launch new smart phone models. If you were hoping to catch a glimpse of the latest gadgets in Barcelona, fear not, companies are already offering alternative product launches to the event.

For example, Sony was due to showcase their latest Sony Xperia 2 phone at the show. Despite the cancellation of MWC, the launch is still going ahead – in a different way. In a statement, Sony said that they will be presenting the phone virtually via their YouTube channel. Equally, HMD Global (the manufacturer of Nokia smartphones) withdrew prior from the show prior to the cancellation and released in a press release that an alternative product launch is in place and they will update the media on a new timeline for announcements when possible.


Explore your reimbursement options

Since the event’s cancellation, it has been revealed that GSMA is not contractually obliged to offer refunds for the intended exhibitors at the show. With some exhibitors forking out millions on their stands, many companies’ budgets will take a massive hit if this policy stands.

The GSMA is working on a proposal designed to maintain good relationships during this period. What you should do during this time is explore the alternative avenues of value that GSMA might offer you to maintain your organisation’s custom. In addition, you should explore your company’s insurance policy to see if you can claim back any expenses that you have lost.


Business as usual

Despite the disappointing news, the cancellation of MWC can teach us all a lesson, that business can continue without face-to-face contact. There are alternative ways to network with like-minded professionals and the industry will adapt to changing situations. Pick up the phone, set up a skype meeting or simply send a text or use social media. Not only can we continue to do business digitally, by doing so we can minimise the risk of spreading illnesses and ensure health and safety. 


If you were planning on meeting TXO in Barcelona we’re still contactable via our multiple offices and we will be happy to set up a call with you. Alternatively download this free guide to find out how to protect your telecom network during the coronavirus outbreak.

For more information on coronavirus please visit the WHO website.