Saturday, 29 February 2020

MWC exhibitor upheaval: NTT Docomo first operator to fall

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 11 February 20

Following the monumental loss of Ericsson on Friday, several companies will not be attending the event due to fears over the coronavirus, but no word from Nokia just yet

Since the weekend, a whole host of companies dropping out of MWC over fears of the coronavirus.    Perhaps the headline cancelation is Tier One operator NTT Docomo, who announced in a brief statement that they have “decided to cancel the exhibition”.   “At present, the impact of the new coronavirus is expanding, and we were planning to exhibit from February 24 (Monday)-February 27 (Thursday) 2020. In consideration of the safety of the visitors…

Since the weekend, a whole host of companies dropping out of MWC over fears of the coronavirus. 
 
Perhaps the headline cancelation is Tier One operator NTT Docomo, who announced in a brief statement that they have “decided to cancel the exhibition”.
 
“At present, the impact of the new coronavirus is expanding, and we were planning to exhibit from February 24 (Monday)-February 27 (Thursday) 2020. In consideration of the safety of the visitors, partner companies and staff members, we decided to cancel the exhibition,” read the statement. 
 
From this statement it is unclear if this applies merely to their exhibition space or whether they will have no staff in attendance at all.
 
NTT DoCoMo were the first operator to cancel its appearance at the event, with Bouygues Telecom following today.
 
Other major dropouts include Amazon, Sony, Amdocs, and CommScope on Monday, and Intel and Facebook earlier today.
 
On Sunday, the GSMA announced yet more stringent health policies in an effort to stave of concern, the core of which are four new stipulations:
 
- All travellers from the Hubei province will not be permitted access to the event
- All travellers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event (passport stamp, health certificate)
- Temperature screening will be implemented
- Attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected
 
With MWC scheduled to start on the 24th, under two weeks away, this means that Chinese attendees need to have left the country yesterday at the latest if they intend to assess the event – a tall order that will surely result in a number of further dropouts.
 
Giants like Huawei will be affected less severely, having promised to increase their reliance on their European-based staff for the event. 
 
Speculation is rife as to the attendance of other major players. So far there has been no official decision from Nokia, who are routinely the largest exhibitor besides Huawei and the now absent Ericsson.
 
Orange, BT, Telefonica, and Vodafone have allegedly been in joint crisis talks regarding their attendance – and may even be meeting with the Mayor of Barcelona to discuss their options, according to some sources – but have yet to announce any decisions, individually or collectively. 
 
One aspect that has been largely unexplored by MWC–coronavirus coverage so far is the impact that the outbreak is having on attendees without exhibits. Rumour has it, for example, that Apple will no longer be sending any staff to the event, and they are surely not the only company to quietly withdraw in the background of the exhibitor upheaval.
 
It has been reported that the GSMA will be making a final decision as to the event’s viability on Friday, so the rest of the week is sure to be an exciting and uneasy time for organisers and attendees alike.
 
Current dropouts as of Tuesday the 11th: Amazon, Amdocs, Bouygues Telecom, Ciena, Cisco, Commscope, Coosen Group, Ericsson, Facebook, Intel, LG, Mediatek, NTT DoCoMo, NVIDIA, Panorama Software, Samsung (reduced presence), Sony, TCL (cancelled press event), UMIDIGI, VIAVI, Vivo, ZTE (reduced presence).
 

EDIT: Major US telco Sprint are also out. 
 
Also in the news:

 

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