Barcelona

It’s getting close to Barcelona time again. 

Every year in the second week of February the mobile industry goes to Barcelona for four days for the Mobile World Congress. Until a couple of years ago it was called 3GSM and held in Cannes, but Cannes got too full - you could never get a hotel or a flight or a restaurant and the conference centre (used for a certain film festival later in the year) was far too small. The industry outgrew the venue, and judging by the trouble I had getting flights and a hotel it’s getting to that point in Barcelona too. But I suppose most cities would have trouble absorbing 50,000 people in one week. 

I first went in 2002 (in Cannes), and went again in 2005 (Cannes), 2008 (Barcelona), 2009 and 2010. 

Non-telecoms things to expect:

  • Dozens of unhealthy-looking Chinese engineers hanging around looking bored on the ZTE and Huawei stands
  • A hourly dance show by models in hot pants on the stand of a Russian billing software company whose name escapes me - it always takes a huge stand next to Microsoft
  • Terrible, overpriced food in the venue and amazing food off the venue in the evenings 
  • Rain - Barcelona in February isn’t warm
  • Stories about stolen bags containing a week’s worth of business cards
  • Ballardian scenes of people attempting to live entirely off boiled sweets for days at a time 
  • Massive data roaming bills, accompanied by smug people from roaming-focused MVNOs taking advantage of the one week of the year their product actually makes sense
  • Venture capitalists with $100m invested in mobile lecturing mobile operators (who aren’t actually in the room) who have $100bn invested…