Saturday, 19 August 2017

MWC 2016: This time it's gonna be different

By Mary Lennighan, Total Telecom
Friday 19 February 16

BYO lunch, set a go-to-bed alarm, and find a zen-like state when it comes to other people, plus other tips for surviving a week in Barcelona.

I'm not a great believer in new year's resolutions. The good intentions, the hope, the expectations...the crushing disappointment come the second week in January when you realise you've gained 5lb, accidentally been to the pub twice, and there's a thin film of dust gathering on your new exercise bike. Mobile World Congress seems to follow a similar format. Every year I leave Barcelona a shadow of my former self, vowing that next time I will sleep more, drink less, eat occasionally, and take a whole host of measures to make the experience less harrowing. And of course, I then return 12 months later and make the same mistakes all over again. This year it's going to be different though…

I'm not a great believer in new year's resolutions. The good intentions, the hope, the expectations...the crushing disappointment come the second week in January when you realise you've gained 5lb, accidentally been to the pub twice, and there's a thin film of dust gathering on your new exercise bike.

Mobile World Congress seems to follow a similar format. Every year I leave Barcelona a shadow of my former self, vowing that next time I will sleep more, drink less, eat occasionally, and take a whole host of measures to make the experience less harrowing. And of course, I then return 12 months later and make the same mistakes all over again.

This year it's going to be different though. Following a high-level strategy meeting, the Total Telecom team has crafted a set of Congress resolutions that cannot fail to turn the annual telecoms endurance race into a veritable tiptoe through the tulips. (I would have said 'stroll down the Rambla', but that carries its own risks.)

Don't wing it when it comes to food
Barcelona isn't exactly short of decent eateries that are open late at night, but sustenance during daylight hours can be a problem at Congress. Fancy queuing for half an hour for a €10 potato sandwich? Thought not. The age-old trick of surviving on press room biscuits is no fun either, and it wasn't even possible last year, when Catalan cookies were like gold dust, if memory serves.

So now we have a new plan: get to Barcelona early*, find a supermarket before the start of press conference chaos, and take a packed lunch to the Fira every day. Simple! We might even take our own biscuits; it could prove to be an interesting sideline if the press room starts to run low.

*We have perhaps taken it too far with the 'arrive early' part of the plan. A 3am start tomorrow morning is suddenly much less appealing than when we booked the flights.

Smell the coffee...and the flowers
It can be difficult to find the time to stop and smell the flowers, as it were, when you're running from one hall to the next...which inevitably means that when the person you are interviewing asks your opinion on the 'big themes' of this year's show, you have to try your best to hide your blank look and mutter something about growth in data traffic and connected devices.

Thus, this year we will make an effort to digest what is actually going on around us – maybe over a delicious packed lunch – rather than waiting until we're back in the U.K. and piecing it all together from a couple of coffee-stained, dog-eared notebooks.

On the subject of coffee, this year I am pledging not to overdo it. I will not end every day pale and twitching, no matter how many vendors have hired a barista to serve on their booths and no matter how good it smells.

Obey the laws of physics
As previously mentioned, running between the halls is often an integral part of MWC, the end result usually being to arrive at your next meeting confused, unprepared and dripping in sweat. So, when planning your agenda, try to take into account the scale of the Fira Gran Via; it covers 240,000 m² of floor space, or to put it in a more relate-able context, it's approximately 400 miles from hall one to hall 8...or even further if you're running late.

Looking at my schedule for the event, I suspect we may have broken this resolution before we have even left the U.K. Ah well, onwards and upwards...

Tame the technology tantrums
For a trade show focused on the mobile – and increasingly the broader telecoms – industry, Mobile World Congress really gives me the rage when it comes to technology.

This year, to sidestep the annual dilemma about how often to risk turning on mobile data without triggering alarm bells at the company's accounts department, the TT editorial team has procured and topped up a Spanish SIM card. But avoiding techie tantrums altogether could be trickier.

I hereby pledge to adopt a zen-like calm when it comes to the seat-hoggers in the press room; you know, the types that leave a bazillion euros worth of kit on 'their' desk for the entirety of every day, thereby reducing us mere laptop-toting mortals to the indignity of writing copy from the carpet. It is going to happen, there will be selfish halfwits, and I will not get angry about it.

I will, however, adjust my wardrobe accordingly. For the good of mankind, and particularly the lovely folk manning the press centre, I'll leave last year's mini skirt at home. Trust me when I say, I wasn't sitting pretty.

The go-to-bed alarm
Our final resolution could well be the hardest to keep, if experience is anything to go by. In the cold light of day, it's very easy to convince yourself that, unlike every previous MWC, you will go to bed at a relatively sensible hour. But once you've had a late dinner and a couple of digestifs it becomes a completely different matter, especially when you factor in the curious Catalan anomaly that makes the hours between 11pm and 3am somehow disappear.

Hence, Total Telecom is pioneering the go-to-bed alarm, which is exactly what it sounds like – a smartphone alert designed to remind us that the hours are ticking by and we should probably leave the bar now. The only problem is deciding what time to set it for!

You know it makes sense though. You don't need another Estrella...especially one that a street vendor appeared to produce from nowhere. We all know where they come from and we're all far too grown up to go in for that sort of thing these days...aren't we?

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Newsletter signup

Quickly get on board and up to date with the telecoms industry