Mobile World Congress Americas 2017

San Francisco
Moscone Center
September 12 – 14, 2017

Attendance: 21,000+
Exhibitors/sponsors: 1,000
Media/Analysts: 300+

Calysto’s Takeaways and Highlights

The inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas event held in San Francisco definitely had to share the spotlight. On opening day, Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the latest iPhone in the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, the company’s new campus. If that wasn’t enough, Star Wars fans discovered that J.J. Abrams will return to write and direct “Star Wars: Episode IX” and Twitter went crazy. While the second event was purely coincidental, the GSMA knew full well the September timing meant they would once again face off against Apple. Another hurdle, the onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms recently faced by people from Texas to Florida and Atlanta prevented many from being able to travel to the show.

So how did the new event which collaborated with CTIA’s annual fall conference do?

The three-day “GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas, in partnership with CTIA” was a joint event that the GSMA produced and managed. The show wasn’t scheduled during the week of Labor Day or in Las Vegas like last year, which was a plus. However, instead of the predicted 30,000+ attendees, the GSMA reported more than 21,000 visitors from 110 countries and territories attended. More than 55 percent held “senior-level positions,” with 2,400 being CEOs. “This show was both GSMA and CTIA, with GSMA taking the lead. But CTIA logos were everywhere. Which, I personally think hurt the show,” said Laura Borgstede, CEO of Calysto Communications. “While the numbers were not what many had hoped for, I think the industry needs a fall event and the groundwork is now in place if GSMA can carry it off.”

The Buzz. 5G and IoT, smart cities, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“At Mobile World Congress Americas, it seemed like almost everyone couldn’t stop talking about 5G,” wrote Wireless Week’s Michael Luciano. “From exhibition booths to seminar panels, the upcoming mobile network is generating an astronomical amount of hype, despite its projected release date to be between 18-24 months from now.”

The Program. This year’s program revolved around six themes:

  1. Consumer IoT
  2. Content & Media
  3. Everything Policy (policy developments on spectrum auctions, infrastructure, IoT, drones and more)
  4. The Fourth Industrial Revolution
  5. Networks
  6. Sustainable Development

Keynote sessions included América Móvil, AT&T, Bharti Enterprises, CTIA, Essential, FCC, Mighty Networks, Mozilla Foundation, Nokia, Pandorabots, PayPal, PWC, Qualcomm, San Francisco 49ers, Sprint, Unity, UPS and Verizon Wireless.

Last year’s CTIA Super Mobility event included a collocated conference –Tower & Small Cell Summit — which was eliminated this year. After looking over the MWC America’s conference program and not finding many presentations related to wireless infrastructure, one telecom editor indicated to us that they would be attending the HetNet Expo in October instead. Hopefully, this is an area that will be expanded next year.

The Exhibition. There were more than 1,000 companies exhibiting, including Cisco, Comba, Ericsson, IBM, Integron, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, PayPal, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, TATA Communications, TELUS, Taoglas, TracFone Wireless, Verizon Wireless, VMWare and ZTE. Country pavilions represented Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, India, Pakistan, South Korea and the United States. There was too much retail on the floor.

With the growing interest in smart cities, local governments and Chamber of Commerce delegations came to San Francisco to drum up interest for their region. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the launch of IoT.ATL or Internet of Things Atlanta to market the area as a tech capital for the IoT. “The launch of IoT.ATL comes as a chamber delegation and dozens of Atlanta area tech companies are in San Francisco for the influential GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas convention,” wrote Scott Trubey.

Media & Analysts. The GSMA reported 300 media and analysts at the show.

“The event fell under something of a shadow as the media spotlight focused on Apple’s latest iPhone announcement at its new Cupertino headquarters less than 50 miles south,” observed Rick Merritt, EE Times. “Nevertheless, MWC-A showed interesting generally stepwise innovations in handsets, smartwatches and tags for IoT end nodes.”

And, the event proved to be a good venue for discussion around the implications of 5G.“Understandably, there’s been a lot of talk from U.S. operators at Mobile World Congress Americas about how each of them is leading in the race to 5G. No doubt we can look forward to hearing about a lot more U.S. firsts leading up to 2018, 2019 and 2020,” wrote Monica Alleven, Fierce Wireless. “But during a trade show that in its earlier iteration usually amounted to one big lovefest for the industry, it was enlightening to hear one industry veteran point out what remains to be done.”

Released in conjunction with the MWCA event, the GSMA Mobile Economy North America 2017 research report predicts that unique mobile subscribers in North America will grow to 313 million by 2020. In revenue terms, North America is estimated to be a $250 billion market this year, accounting for more than a fifth of global operator revenue.

The Wrap on Mobile World Congress Americas.

 While the first iteration of MWC-A admittedly didn’t set attendance records, we do feel a foundation was set for future growth (assuming they dissociate from CTIA). Those we spoke with who most benefited from the show were those with a thought-out strategy, plan and pre-set meetings. Booth traffic was very slim, so those who relied on traffic for lead generation alone were probably disappointed.

“Some of the best meetings were the networking meetings that took place outside of the exhibit halls. The W Hotel across the street was always busy and had an energy (perhaps the cocktails?!) that wasn’t felt at the show,” said Marissa Evans, Calysto’s VP of Corporate Development. “I think there’s still some work to do to help this event reach its potential. This year, people were trying to feel out what CTIA moving to GSMA would look like. Next year, how can GSMA re-energize the ‘trade show’ from its standard format to make it new, fresh, fun?”

Were you at MWC-A? What did you think? What would you like to see next year?

Next Up: In 2018, Mobile World Congress- Americas will move to Los Angeles and will be held September 12-14, 2018 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC).

Articles of Interest

Mobile World Live 2017: Keynote replays and highlights

Chamber task force to pitch Atlanta area as hub of Internet of Things

By Scott Trubey

September 14, 2017

5G stole the show at Mobile World Congress Americas

Business Insider

By Rayna Hollander

September 18, 2017

17 Views of Mobile World Congress

EE Times

By Rick Merritt

September 15, 2017

Editor’s Corner—Industry needs to do more to include other networks in 5G

Fierce Wireless

By Monica Alleven

Sep 14, 2017 

Ligado CEO opens up on the company’s industrial IoT business model and target markets

Fierce Wireless

By Mike Dano

September 15, 2017

10 Cool Technologies From Mobile World Congress Americas 2017


By Jean Baptiste Su, Contributor

September 15, 2017

Smart Cities Defy Cookie-Cutter Connectivity

Light Reading

By Craig Matsumoto

September 15, 2017

AT&T and GE’s Current partner to build smart city solutions in Atlanta


By Trevor Curwin

September 15, 2017

5G to Be Like a Well-Tuned Orchestra, Thanks to Software


By Dan Meyer

September 14, 2017

What Challenges Lurk Along The Path Towards 5G?

Wireless Week

Michael Luciano

September 15, 2017

Half of connections in North America will be on 5G by 2025, GSMA says


By Stephanie Condon

September 12, 2017


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