The biggest mobile and telecommunications conference in Europe is back.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicks off on Monday, when the most powerful decision makers in tech will descend on Barcelona alongside more than 75,000 other attendees.
Here’s a look at what to expect from this year’s conference, and how it impacts the city of Barcelona.
5G advances - but 6G is also on the agenda
5G will be one of the main themes of the conference, with the fifth generation of mobile network already bringing more data - more quickly - to millions of devices around Europe.
It has spurred improvements in virtual reality and the metaverse already, and its increased bandwidth has proven important to a vast array of sectors from tech to medical.
And although 5G is still developing and new technologies built on top of it, eyes will also be on its successor at MWC.
Although years away from completion, the sixth generation mobile network - 6G - will be needed for our ever-more connected world, with touted use cases including self-driving (or flying) autonomous vehicles, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality as well as space exploration.
Expanding the metaverse
Companies will be showcasing their early ventures into the metaverse, which are slowly but surely changing the way we live, work, and play.
MWC bills the metaverse as a way in which the customer experience will be “completely transformed” in the next five years.
Among the topics that will be explored and showcased at this year’s event will be how the metaverse can transform education, immersive technologies, and whether it is the future, a fad, or a fraud.
Start-ups showcased at 4YFN
“The focus is going to be on combining physical and virtual reality, and how that’s applied to some concrete solutions for people,” Miquel Martí, CEO at Tech Barcelona, a private non-profit association supporting Barcelona’s digital and technological ecosystem, told Euronews Next.
While the event is dominated by big name tech and telecoms companies, the part that is more interesting for Martí’s organisation is the Four Years From Now (4YFN) start-up fringe event within MWC.
It showcases the latest start-ups that are tipped to make a big impact in the world of technology, with one of them being crowned the 2023 winner of the 4YFN Awards at a show during the conference.
Impact on Barcelona
For Tech Barcelona specifically, MWC is a chance to show off the start-ups they work with and help them to build connections.
“We're going to give our members and our start-ups the chance to talk to make a pitch for millions, perhaps more than 50 companies are going to be pitching here in the hall for the event,” Martí said.
In terms of the tech scene in Barcelona, for Martí, the event will bring companies and investors back to the city, and see them renew their commitment to it as a place to do business.
“We expect them to be more interested in what we're doing and how we are developing our local projects and businesses,” he said.
And for the wider city and economy, MWC is a big deal. More than 60,000 people usually descend on the city for the conference (aside from years interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic), and this year is expected to be as busy as ever.
“The impact in terms of a direct and indirect effect on the city is huge,” Martí said. “You have more than 60,000 attendees, so the hotel industry, all the restaurants, all the city will feel the impact”.
“It's not only about what's happening in the fair, but also the different meetings that are being created and organised,” he added.
“Besides gathering investors, gathering top management of special operations, people are having perhaps the meetings and conversations that are going to define the next partnerships and solutions for people”.
Mobile World Congress runs until Friday, March 2.