MWC Barcelona2021-What was happening during the most anticipated event in the mobile world?

MWC Barcelona2021-What was happening during the most anticipated event in the mobile world?

5 August 2021
~ 6 min

After the cancellation of MWC 2020, we were looking forward to this year’s exhibition. We will tell you how it was held, what was discussed, who came and who refused to participate.

The traditional Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was held not in February or March, as everyone is used to, but at the end of June. The GSMA host announced the postponement of the date in September last year. The Association was forced to do this because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mobile World Congress

MWC Barcelona is an annual event dedicated to telecommunications technologies and everything related to them. This is one of the largest exhibitions in the mobile industry. It is attended by mobile operators, manufacturers of smartphones and accessories, insiders, the media, and even the world’s ministries of communications representatives.

The theme of MWC Barcelona 2021 is «Connected Impact». The presentations were devoted to artificial intelligence, 5G, big data and the Internet of Things. The participants discussed how all this will affect people’s lives in the future.

They say that times of crisis accelerate progress and innovation. The impact of this global pandemic has proved no exception to that thinking. The rate of change is phenomenal, and this will be a feature of the MWC programme. There’s nothing that beats building relationships in person, and I am consistently encouraged by the collective desire to come back together.

Security at # MWC21

The Mobile World Congress lasted for four days: from June 28 to July 1. The hosts understood that this would be one of the largest offline events of the year, so they paid attention to the protection of participants. As GSMA CEO Mats Granrid said, «safety is ground zero». What measures have been taken to prevent this?

First, the hybrid format of MWC21. Some speeches and presentations were given online. Thousands of participants around the world watched the event from home, behind the screens of their laptops. But there were also live performances and traditional stands at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition center.

Although at first, event managers thought about mandatory vaccination of all participants, in the end, this idea was abandoned. This would be quite complicated, considering that every country has different global programs. However, there are still several levels of verification left: for example, a QR code about the state of health from the airport and the results of PCR or an express test. You could take the test right at the venue.

A safe environment was provided with the help of mandatory wearing of masks, a special ventilation system and social distance. John Hoffman also announced his intention to donate 300,000 euros to a local organization to fight against COVID-19.

Connected Impact

Despite all the security measures taken, many brands refused to personally participate in MWC 21. Google, Nokia, Xiaomi, Facebook and Sony were among the first to announce it. Just before the event, a similar decision was made by Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Group.

The events of the first day of MWC21, dedicated to the main theme of the event — Connected Impact.

  • GSMA CEO Mats Granryd began with a speech about the power of mobile technologies and their impact on business and society. He emphasized that during the restrictions around the world, the Internet helped us to maintain a social life while staying at home.
  • After that, Granryd said that mobile technologies have become a key factor in the economic recovery. Innovations and digital services are used in all industries. He also predicted that $900 billion would be spent on the Internet by 2025, 80% of it on 5G.
  • The President of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete, spoke about the potential of digital transformation. He stressed the importance of technologies such as Edge Computing, cloud services, IoT, big data and AI. At the end of his speech, he spoke about the need for government investment in the industry—and the creation of a regulatory framework.
  • Orange CEO Stéphane Richard discussed the main problems of the telecommunications industry during his welcoming speech. Basically, he was talking about the inaccessibility of communication facilities to 4 billion people around the world. He also mentioned the increasing problem of cyberattacks and concerns about the cybersecurity of 5G. According to Richard, the ecosystem is getting bigger, while it is fragmented and therefore vulnerable.

Elon Musk’s speech

A genius, millionaire, playboy, philanthropist, Elon Musk, gave his speech at MWC 21 online. On Tuesday, June 29, he spoke about StarLink’s plans to enter the global market. Today, almost 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet, and Musk’s company is going to fix it.

The main issue, according to SpaceX CEO, is the ban of some countries on 5G towers. That would be enough to provide the entire population of the Earth with the Internet. Therefore, Musk believes that the future belongs to satellite communications. He intends to provide Internet connection even to the most remote corners of our planet.

StarLink is already testing satellite communications: the Better Than Nothing Beta program was launched in October 2020. Its participants noticed the access speed of 150 Mbit /s, as well as some problems, specifically, heating equipment and high cost. So the company of Elon Musk still has something to work on.

The new One UI Watch interface presentation

For some people, MWC Barcelona remains synonymous with major technology announcements. This year, the loudest, perhaps, was the presentation of a new interface for Samsung’s One UI Watch wearable devices. It will be available on the platform that the company developed along with Google. This guarantees great performance and seamless interaction between Android devices, and, moreover, there is access to a variety of applications.

Users will be able to appreciate the new interface with the release of the next version of the Galaxy Watch. The watch will be the first device with support for the new platform and the One UI Watch. The presentation will take place at Unpacked this summer.

Scientific innovations

On the last day of MWC Barcelona 2021, several scientific reports were held. These are the most interesting ones.

  • Tommaso Calarco from Quantum Community Network, spoke about the state of quantum computers today. He is considering that, from a practical point of view, we are now at the level of the Wright brothers. Nevertheless, we already have some developments. He cited the example of a quantum sensor that helps to study brain functions, and a quantum method for ensuring data security.
  • The Dutch scientist Frank Koppens, who studied the optical properties of graphene, predicted the importance of this element in the telecommunications industry. It is important to remember that the graphene battery has already been introduced by Huawei. It continues to work at 60 degrees Celsius. The usual lithium-ion batteries can only reach up to 50 degrees. It also has twice the battery life.
  • Ana Maique from Neuroelectrics presented a new device called Starstim. It looks like a hood, is put on the head and stimulates the brain. In fact, this is an alternative to surgical intervention when installing electrodes in certain areas of the brain.

The last part of the event was also related to 5G. It concerns complex surgical operations. There was already a live broadcast of the consultation at MWC 2019. The surgeon gave instructions to colleagues at the Hospital Clinic Barcelona directly from Fira Gran Via, using a direct connection with minimal delays. Antonio de Lacy from Hospital Clinic reported that the experiment was successfully repeated in Shanghai. He was talking about a device that could connect different hospitals. 

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