GSMA previews biggest Mobile World Congress yet

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Company behind the annual trade show gives an in-depth look into what to expect this week

The GSMA has branded this year’s Mobile World Congress as its “biggest yet”, with record crowds of 70,000 people and more than 1,500 exhibitors expected to attend.

The four-day event kicks off in Barcelona today (February 25) at the new 240,000 sq ft Fira Gran Via conference venue, which is twice the size of the Fira Montjuic which had hosted the event since 2006.

Last year’s event, which attracted around 67,000 visitors from across the mobile industry – including international manufacturers, operators and distributors – broke all previous records for the event.

More than 3,500 CEOs and 38,000 other company leaders from 205 countries are scheduled to attend this year’s event.

Confirmed keynote speakers include Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, who will share their views on the international market and developments in mobile technology.

GSMA chief marketing officer Michael O’Hara said: “Our new venue move is the biggest change over last year and we are very excited for people to come along and see the Gran Via, which is a new, cutting-edge exhibition and conference facility that will provide greater space and flexibility.

“Last year’s event broke all previous records, and we expect that trend to continue with this year’s event.”

‘New Mobile Horizon’ theme
The theme of this year’s event is ‘New Mobile Horizon’, which is designed to show how the home and the wider world will look and function in the future thanks to mobile technology. The GMSA said Mobile World Congress will give attendees the opportunity to “experience the connected life”.

The organisation said its Connected City exhibit – featuring examples from some of the world’s biggest networks including Deutsch Telekom, Vodafone and AT&T – will illustrate this.

It follows on from last year’s Connected House exhibition, which outlined the idea of connected living on a smaller scale.

Displays will mostly centre around M2M connectivity – with services related to cars, security, solar panels, water management, energy and public transport among others on display.

O’Hara said: “The theme of New Mobile Horizon is designed to illustrate the changing landscape of the mobile industry because mobile doesn’t look the same as it did just a few years ago.
“We’re expanding on the highly popular ‘Connected House’ exhibit we had last time to create the ‘Connected City’ in partnership with mobile operators to showcase a range of mobile-connected products and services.”

The GSMA will also expand on the promotion of NFC for payments, ticketing and as a loyalty solution for businesses, which it has done internationally over the past year.

It has set up several NFC-enabled facilities around the exhibition hall including smart posters offering information on the nearest bathroom and more general venue maps that are available at the tap of a smartphone.

As well as the NFC promotion in the venue itself, touch points have also been installed around Barcelona, offering services and information at the city’s airport and in affiliated hotels, restaurants and central tourist locations.

In another move to promote the technology, attendees can register for an NFC badge they can download to their smartphones to avoid having to repeatedly show a name badge when moving around the site.

O’Hara said: “We hope that all attendees will take advantage of the many benefits of NFC, from venue access to retail transactions to transport, among others.”

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