• Dean Anthony Gratton

GSMA #MWC2020: Let’s just take it on the chin…

I don’t know about you, but I was looking forward to this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) and was stunned to learn that the event was cancelled! Most notably, it was the first time in its 33-year history for the event to be called off!

It’s all about saving lives, right?

As the date for the event approached some leading and influential telecoms giants, along with other companies, slowly began to withdraw their participation in what is considered to be the event of the year for the mobile phone and network arena. Especially, with the furore surrounding the imminent rollout of 5G – I’m sure, there were many companies wanting to strut their stuff and equally scream and shout about what they have achieved.


Nevertheless, the decision to cancel the event was the right one, since people’s health and safety are paramount. We all have to take equal responsibility by reducing unnecessary contact with others – honestly, I haven’t seen my wife for weeks! Seriously though, whilst the Coronavirus is strutting its stuff we await, at some point, for the virus to hopefully fizzle out. However, in the meantime, the boffins are beavering away in the laboratories working on a vaccine that will, ultimately, save thousands of lives. Alas, these cunning viruses are sneaky little ‘things’ (for want of a better word!).


I demand a refund!

The GSMA, an industry organisation, which represents many mobile network operators across the globe probably and hesitantly withdrew #MWC2020’s event due to, well, let’s be honest ‘common sense’ – it has to be more than just the moolah at times like this and it was the best and most gracious decision they could have made. Well done guys!


It has been noted in other reviews and articles that a lot of money was lost and there are many companies endeavouring to recover their losses, despite the convivial consensus to ‘just take it on the chin’ – after all, what’s more important? Currently, some companies are seeking refunds, not only from the event itself, but from the hotels, flights and other peripheral expenses that are often incurred at such an iconic event.


What about Shanghai?

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, said, “We’re looking for solidarity and everybody bearing their own costs”. He continued, “We’re an NGO and we don’t make a profit. We don’t have huge amounts of funds, and all our proceeds are funnelled back into the industry.”


So, whilst the GSMA Barcelona event is its largest, GSMA also host other events in Los Angeles and Shanghai, where, in the case of the latter event, the GSMA are currently monitoring the ongoing crisis with the Coronavirus; the event is due to take place this June. Granryd adds, “We do need to make a decision shortly, but not just now.” However, he intimated that for now, it’s still going ahead. Nevertheless, he did confirm that #MWC2021 has already been confirmed to be taking place – I guess, this might be subject to the ongoing state of the Coronavirus and its ongoing malevolence.


Doing what’s right

I’m sure many companies are out of pocket, as well as the community in Barcelona, who probably rely on such income during and following the event. Of course, the Spanish community receives such a boost in revenue for local businesses and individuals themselves. As I have already mentioned, the GSMA’s decision, might have been a difficult one to make, yet it was the right one. More so, Granryd expresses that the “GSMA’s priority was the health of employees and attendees” and that “We didn’t look at money or anything like that.”


Finally, a leading industry organisation has taken the right stance in protecting its employees and the attendees who would have joined in Barcelona. This step in the right direction must surely prove to us all that there is more than ‘just the moolah’ and that people’s health and safety come first. We are often savaged by our agendas and personal motivations, but this year, having such an industry-relevant event remaining steadfast to the welfare of others has perhaps set a gauntlet for us to be mindful of what’s right and important in this world.


Until next time…

We are always drawn to the big, so-called, ‘buck’ but, in reality, there was so much more at risk here. I don’t want to put on my big fluffy socks and sip my hot chocolate with a warm and cosy innocence, pledging “I want to save the world” – actually, hang on, I do! But this is all about perspectives and how we might have an opportunity to ‘reset’ and take a different glance at what might be important. So, enough of that – enough of my ‘gushy’ sentiment – yes, this is as good as it gets, I’m afraid!


So, this is where your ‘Covid-19 free’ (at the time of writing)’ Dr G, signs off.



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a technology influencer, analyst & futurist 

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