GSMA expects 80K visitors to attend MWC23

The GSMA is gearing up for Mobile World Congress 2023 (MWC23) in Barcelona, Spain, and expecting around 80,000 visitors to attend the annual conference, which is a significant uptick from the 61,000 that attended MWC22. The association said 2,000 companies will be exhibiting at MWC23.

This year’s Mobile World Congress will be held February 27-March 2 at the same venue it was held in past years, the Fira Gran Via.

The jump in attendance for MWC23 is a welcome relief to the GSMA. It’s been three years since the global Covid-19 pandemic forced the organization to cancel MWC20, making it the first major worldwide event to be cancelled due to the pandemic.  But the 80,000 expected visitors for MWC23 is still quite a bit shy of the 109,000 attendees that visited Barcelona for the conference in pre-Covid 2019. Of course, a lot has changed in the wireless industry since 2019. At that time 5G was still in its infancy and much of the conference was focused on new 5G products and services.

Those attending MWC23 should expect 5G to still be a topic of discussion but the focus will be more on 5G services and applications as well as the developments around 5G Advanced and 6G. Other big themes to look for at the event include sustainable networks, augmented reality, the metaverse and other immersive technologies.

Some of the keynote addresses at the event will come from executives outside the wireless industry including Vincent Clerc, CEO of logistics firm Maersk, Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E, an off-road electric vehicle racing series and Anna Borg, president and CEO of energy company Vattenfall.  The GSMA said that more than half of the attendees are also from industries outside mobile.

U.S. wireless operator executives are noticeably absent from the keynote speaker list. However, there are some representatives from this group scheduled to speak at some of the breakout sessions such as AT&T EVP and Network CTO Igal Elbaz and Verizon’s Chief Strategy Officer Rima Quereshi.

The GSMA is touting its new “Journey to the Future,” immersive storytelling space that the association said will provide attendees with the chance to get hands-on experience with different connectivity solutions.

In addition, the group said it will be collaborating with professional soccer team FC Barcelona, which will co-locate its Sports Tomorrow Congress at MWC Barcelona for the first time. The GSMA said that it believes this collaboration will create a chance for the mobile industry to convene with sports companies and create new business opportunities.

Also look for the return of some popular MWC programs such as 4YFN, which brings together startups and investors, and Diversity4Tech, which focuses on diversity, equality and inclusion, as well as Beat Barcelona, the official networking and entertainment venture located on the outside terrace of the North Entrance to the Fira Gran Via.