Automotive > Infotainment & Telematics Blog

To MWC or NOT to MWC

by Roger Lanctot | Feb 07, 2020

The announcement of Ericsson's decision to bypass the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona this year due to the onset of the novel coronavirus set off alarm bells across the entire mobile supply chain and the wider conference event community across multiple industries. The event is only 17 days away and Korean electronic giant LG had already announced its decision not to attend, for the same reason.

Press reports were quick to swoop in and note the various Chinese handset makers all still intending to attend the biggest annual event in the wireless industry. The organizer, the GSMA, also stepped in to announce enhanced health safety measures being taken to ensure the safety of attendees and exhibitors alike.

For Ericsson, the risk to the more than 10,000 booth visitors expected during the four-day event was too much for management to countenance leading to a decision to err on the side of precaution and opt out of the 2020 event - more or less at the last minute. The potential for others to do likewise remains.

Of course a snowballing of cancellations could cause an event organizer like GSMA to cancel the event altogether - but there is no hint of such a possibility thus far. I have to acknowledge that were the decision up to me I'd be hard pressed to confidently choose the right path. The fact that the GSMA is taking more stringent health safety steps is a validation of the existence of serious concerns regarding the potential exposure of attendees to a potentially deadly pathogen.

Thankfully, the decision does not rest with me. And I am comfortable with being comfortable regardless of whether MWC goes on or is shut down.

The mere fact that this quandary exists, however, is reason enough for all citizens of planet earth to confront the mutual interdependencies we have upon one another. No country can unmitigatedly look out for number one. There is no opportunity for Schadenfreude as China's woes rapidly become the woes of the entire planet. We rise and fall together on a collective tide of responsibility for one another's health and safety.

Maybe, just maybe, we will pay closer attention to the ties that bind us together.  As we reach for the Purell hand sanitizer and face masks we will take to heart these implications and do our best to do what we can to ensure that the "show" we call life on planet earth can and must go on!

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