GSMA claims ‘record-breaking’ total of 108,000 attendees at this year’s MWC in Barcelona

The 2017 Mobile World Congress attracted a record 108,000 visitors*, an increase of 7% over the previous year, the GSMA reports.

Visitors from 208 countries and territories worldwide attended this year’s event, held at the Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc venues in Barcelona.

The exhibition hosted more than 2,300 exhibiting companies from both the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries such as automotive, finance and healthcare, while the four-day conference programme comprised 11 keynote sessions and many more track sessions dedicated to specific industry topics. There were also a record number of government delegations to the Ministerial Programme, plus several new events staged for the first time this year across the two venues.

“Mobile World Congress enjoyed another record-breaking year in 2017, underlining its position as the world’s premier mobile ecosystem event,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd.

“The theme for this year’s show was Mobile: The Next Element, reflecting the elemental role of mobile in the lives of billions of people around the world. We once again saw a world-class speaker line-up and the unveiling of a range of major new initiatives and cutting-edge product launches, which will define the direction of the mobile ecosystem over the coming years.”

Over 55% of this year’s Mobile World Congress attendees held senior-level positions, including more than 6,100 CEOs. Approximately 3,500 international media and industry analysts attended the event to report on the many significant industry announcements made at Congress.

Approximately 23% of attendees were female, with the number of female attendees up 14% year-on-year, growing at twice the rate of the overall attendee base. Preliminary independent economic analysis indicates that the 2017 Mobile World Congress will have contributed more than €465 million(US$ 491.11 million) and over 13,200 part-time jobs.

The keynote sessions featured senior representatives from a range of major companies and organisations, including Ansible, AT&T, Atos, Bharti Enterprises, Boxever, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, CGAP, Discovery Networks, Econet, the European Commission, FC Barcelona, Formula E Holdings, Girl Effect, Gray Ghost Ventures, Huawei, Kaspersky Lab, Kik Interactive, KT, L1 Technology, Liberty Global, LINE, NEC, Netflix, Niantic, Nokia, Open Garden, Opportunity Network, Orange, Otto, Prisma Labs, PwC, Roborace, Smart Dubai, SoftBank, Tele2, Telefónica, Turner, Twilio, the US Federal Communications Commission, Vayyar Imaging, Veniam, VICE Media, Vivendi and VMware.

John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd

The main exhibition at Fira Gran Via covered 115,000 square metres. The 4 Years From Now (4YFN) and Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo) events occupied 50,000 square metres of space at the Fira Montjuïc venue.

The main exhibition featured some of the most high-profile names in the mobile industry and beyond, including AOL, BMW, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom, DJI, Ericsson, Ford, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HTC, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, NEC, Nokia Solutions and Networks, Oracle, Orange, Peugeot, Philips Lighting, Qualcomm Incorporated, Samsung Electronics, SAP, SEAT, Sony Mobile, Telefónica, Verizon, Vodafone and ZTE.

New for 2017 was the NEXTech exhibition, located in Hall 8, which showcased a range of forward-thinking companies and disruptive technologies, from virtual reality/augmented reality and robotics, to cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and more. The hall featured several pavilions and zones including the Drone Zone, Graphene Experience Zone, IoT Pavilion and the NEXTech Pavilion, incorporating VR/AR, robotics and AI.

Ministerial programme showcases socio-economic impact of mobile

It was another year of record attendance at the GSMA’s Ministerial Programme, which brought together governments, regulators and industry leaders to encourage dialogue on a range of regulatory and policy issues. This year’s event saw an increasing number of delegates from adjacent industries such as finance and healthcare, reflecting mobile’s broadening global reach and impact.

There were delegations from 167 countries and international organisations in attendance at the Ministerial Programme, including 60 ministers and 78 regulatory authority heads. The total number of attendees increased 14 per cent from last year to almost 1,700. The Programme focused on maximising the positive socio-economic impact of mobile worldwide, and creating a policy environment that encourages investment and innovation.

Mobile tech on show at the Innovation City

Relocated to a prominent new home in Hall 4 for 2017, the GSMA Innovation City highlighted a range of cutting-edge products and services. Attendees visited the City to interact with demonstrations of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), security and identity solutions – and even a connected seal to tell the story of the Internet of the Seas. Participants included AT&T, Cisco Jasper, Huawei, KT Corporation, Sierra Wireless and UNLIMIT powered by Reliance.

The Innovation City also featured the Mobile for Development Rural Village to showcase mobile technologies that are transforming the lives of farmers and rural communities. Attendees were able to interact with a range of innovative solutions to everyday challenges, from weather forecasting, smart irrigation and solar energy, to cooking gas, mobile health and mobile money.

Start-up Ccommunity connects with industry at 4YFN

Located at the Fira Montjuïc venue, the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) event was held alongside Mobile World Congress for the fourth year running. The event is a forum for the tech start-up community to connect with expert mentors, large corporations and investors.

This year it attracted approximately 19,000 attendees, a 60% increase over the 2016 edition. The 4YFN programme featured an exhibition, conference sessions, workshops, investor meetings, pitching competitions, “pitch the press” sessions and networking activities.

Women4Tech bridging mobile industry’s gender gap

Another new initiative for the 2017 edition of the Mobile World Congress was Women4Tech, a GSMA programme focused on addressing and reducing the gender gap in the mobile industry. The programme featured four days of in-depth analysis of the topics shaping gender diversity in the mobile industry as part of the Women4Tech Summit, plus speed coaching and networking events, and initiatives at 4YFN.

Participating firms included Accenture, Bharti Airtel, Brightstar, Cartoon Network, CNN, the European Commission, Facebook, Google, Government of Catalonia, IFC (World Bank), Kinetic Worldwide (WPP), Lenovo, Turner, SAP Labs and Syniverse.

Young people get a taste of tech at YoMo

More than 11,000 young people from across Catalonia and Spain attended the Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo), held at the Fira Montjuïc as part of Mobile World Congress. This new event was created to inspire young people to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, art/design, and math (STEAM) subjects.

The event featured educational exhibits, live theatre shows, interactive workshops and hands-on activities for students, as well as educator-focused workshops, lectures and resources.

Delivering the sustainable development goals

The mobile industry’s support for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was a major theme at Congress this year. The 17 SDGs set a number of targets, including ending poverty, halting climate change, and fighting injustice and inequality, by 2030. The mobile industry’s role in helping to deliver these goals was showcased both on the conference stage and in the exhibition halls.

The GSMA underscored its support for the SDGs by announcing that it has been certified carbon neutral by independent auditors British Standards Institute for all GSMA events and worldwide offices for 2016.

This includes Mobile World Congress Barcelona, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and the seven international events of the Mobile 360 series, as well as 12 GSMA office locations around the world. The GSMA is continuing to pursue certification of its offices and events, including Mobile World Congress, for 2017.

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