It’s getting close to Barcelona time again. 

Every year in the second week of February the mobile industry goes to Barcelona for four days for the Mobile World Congress. Until a couple of years ago it was called 3GSM and held in Cannes, but Cannes got too full - you could never get a hotel or a flight or a restaurant and the conference centre (used for a certain film festival later in the year) was far too small. The industry outgrew the venue, and judging by the trouble I had getting flights and a hotel it’s getting to that point in Barcelona too. But I suppose most cities would have trouble absorbing 50,000 people in one week. 

I first went in 2002 (in Cannes), and went again in 2005 (Cannes), 2008 (Barcelona), 2009 and 2010. 

Non-telecoms things to expect:

  • Dozens of unhealthy-looking Chinese engineers hanging around looking bored on the ZTE and Huawei stands
  • A hourly dance show by models in hot pants on the stand of a Russian billing software company whose name escapes me - it always takes a huge stand next to Microsoft
  • Terrible, overpriced food in the venue and amazing food off the venue in the evenings 
  • Rain - Barcelona in February isn’t warm
  • Stories about stolen bags containing a week’s worth of business cards
  • Ballardian scenes of people attempting to live entirely off boiled sweets for days at a time 
  • Massive data roaming bills, accompanied by smug people from roaming-focused MVNOs taking advantage of the one week of the year their product actually makes sense
  • Venture capitalists with $100m invested in mobile lecturing mobile operators (who aren’t actually in the room) who have $100bn invested…