From The Editor | January 23, 2024

Future First: The Making Of Mobile World Congress Barcelona

John Oncea

By John Oncea, Editor

MWC24

MWC Barcelona is a must-attend event for anyone interested in mobile technology. It is a great opportunity to learn about the latest trends, network with industry leaders, and explore new business opportunities.

Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC), the largest and most influential event for the connectivity ecosystem, will be taking place February 26–29 in Barcelona. The event, hosted by GSMA, is the one time of year when everyone who’s anyone comes together under one roof.

Tens of thousands of senior executives from top global companies, international governments, and trailblazing tech businesses converge at MWC Barcelona to make decisions, see thought leaders become change-makers, watch new ideas turn into business deals, and make remarkable connections.

MWC is a showcase for the latest mobile technologies and services, featuring a wide range of exhibitors from major mobile operators and manufacturers to startups and research institutions. There are also numerous conferences and workshops covering a wide range of topics related to mobile technology.

This year’s event theme is Future First which speaks to the urgency of bringing industries, continents, technologies, and communities together to realize the future’s potential. There are, in addition, six sub-themes reflecting the latest trends and technologies: 5G and Beyond, Connecting Everything, Humanizing AI, Manufacturing DX, Game Changers, and Our Digital DNA. These themes will take place on 17 different stages across the nine halls, providing a platform for over 1,100 speakers.

Speaking Of Speakers

GSMA has lined up a diverse line-up of keynote speakers for MWC, including Alef Aeronautics CEO Jim Dukhovny who will share his experience designing and developing flying cars; Dell Technologies Founder, Chairman, and CEO Michael Dell who will talk about the importance of Dell being a valued partner for telcos; and Ethiopia Telecom’s CEO Frehiwot Tamiru who will share her technology vision for telcos across Africa.

In addition, Oxford Quantum Circuit’s CEO Ilana Wisby will discuss all things Quantum-as-a-Service and Xtend’s Co-Founder & CEO Aviv Shapira will showcase how 5G mobile technology is the catalyst for robotics.

Anybody Celebrating An Anniversary?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of 4YFN, the global digital and tech startup event that partners with MWC to showcase global tech entrepreneurs and the business leaders of the future. Over the past decade, 4YFN has helped startups thrive, starting with exposure to investors and the business community at MWC and continuing throughout the year with the online 4YFN global community of founders and investors.

4YFN will feature some of the familiar names from the global startup scene including Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder & Executive Chairman at S4 Capital and Nigel Toon, CEO, Chairman, and Co-founder at Graphcore. The 4YFN agenda will feature talks and debates, with discussions centered around the 4YFN themes: the Age of AI, Growth, Startup Funding, Corporate Innovation, Art of Innovation, and Decentralization & Beyond.

But Don’t Just Take It From Me

Industry analyst Tom Brannen, in his article touting 2024 as the year to get excited about augmented reality, writes, “One of last year’s Mobile World Congress highlights was the announcement of global standards for APIs around carrier networks and services. This area continues to expand as the entire wireless ecosystem moves in the direction of more open networks, opening the door for applications and solutions that were previously impossible.”

At this year’s MWC, Brannen “will be looking to see how things have progressed in terms of the success of these global API standards. Carriers have traditionally shied away from opening up their networks –but now they’re in the position of having to look for new revenue opportunities to remain profitable, especially in Europe.”

Tech.co, in its article laying out 2024’s 11 tech conferences you can’t miss, writes that MWC Barcelona “is the world's biggest and most influential mobile tech event. At MWC, it's all about slipping out to one of the open-air terraces at the Fira Gran Via for a small beer and plate of luxe Spanish cold cuts, rather than circumnavigating slot machines and overpriced steak houses” like at events that take place in cities like Las Vegas.

Tech.com adds that is in addition to “the jampacked keynote schedule and vibrant show floor. For businesses in particular, there’s lots that’s relevant, with the overarching theme of connectivity meaning areas like VoIP are well served and there are industry-specific programs for manufacturing, fintech, mobile commerce, and more.”

Finally, Barcelona Turisme adds, “In an age when most of us touch our mobile phones over 2,600 times a day, it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say that this annual gathering of mobile industry insiders will have an impact on all our lives in the months and years to come. Barcelona (which is now known as the Mobile World Capital) has hosted this event for the past years, making it the global hub for discussions, networking, training, forums, and demonstrations for anyone and everyone who’s involved in mobile technology (Mark Zuckerberg has been a regular attendee in recent years).”