Exploring the Distinctions: MWC Las Vegas and MWC Barcelona

Exploring the Distinctions: MWC Las Vegas and MWC Barcelona

By Peggy Tierney Galvin, Force4 Technology Communications 

In recent years, Mobile World Congress (MWC) has spawned two siblings – MWC Americas in Las Vegas and MWC Shanghai. While they haven’t yet achieved the gargantuan scale of the Barcelona show, they are quickly growing to offer a wealth of new opportunities for mobility and networking IT companies to stand out among the telco crowd.  

With MWC Las Vegas just around the corner on Sept. 26, let’s look into what this show offers and how it compares with its Barcelona predecessor.  

Still relatively new on the conference circuit, MWC Americas is smaller than MWC Barcelona, which boasted over 88,000 visitors and 2,400 exhibitors from more than 200 countries in 2023. (That’s down slightly from its pre-pandemic high of 100,000 attendees.) By contrast, the previous North American edition of the MWC series hosted 8,200 attendees from nearly 100 countries with about 300 exhibiting companies. 

Both shows feature telecommunications providers and the software vendors that offer services to enhance, secure, analyze or speed those services. MWC in general stopped being all about connectivity long ago. These days, it is more about mobile technologies, digital devices and, above all, connected experiences. 

This said, the two shows offer distinct experiences for tech enthusiasts and industry professionals. It’s important to understand the differences, as they may impact your show day tactics and, ultimately, your organization’s decision about whether these events are a good fit. 

Exploring the thematic differences and similarities 

The analysts at IDC note that despite present and anticipated inflation, European telecoms are expected to keep making investments in cutting-edge communications technologies. Additionally, they anticipate that 5G will provide new possibilities by enabling huge machine-style, low-latency communications that are ultra-reliable. We’ve also seen that European businesses are speeding up the digitalization and “software-ization” of their operational procedures. They are developing fresh “telco as a platform” business models, co-creation inside ecosystems, and new data-centric go-to-market approaches. 

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Deloitte sees an emphasis on edge computing and its ecosystem. Cloud service providers, hyperscalers and equipment manufacturers are all vying for market share in the multibillion-dollar edge computing sector, which is growing at a rate of more than 20% annually. It is crucial for businesses hoping to lower latency, boost speed, cut expenses and gain more control over their data. 

Strong collaborations with a dependable ecosystem of providers are frequently what’s needed to improve networks and data capabilities at the enterprise edge. A comprehensive edge solution requires an array of suppliers and a way to coordinate them, so at least for the time being, no one vendor or class of vendors can offer it. This is a major theme that we see playing out at MWC Americas.  

In EMEA, there’s more focus on seamlessly and securely connecting financial services to mobile device users in emerging markets. It’s also got regulatory and privacy concerns to deal with, such as GDPR. For its part, the U.S. is more focused on defense applications of satellites. 

However, there are also a few recurring themes and threads present at both events – including the increased demand for enhanced services delivered over service provider networks. This is from the consumer side (streaming, cellular service and so on) and for enterprise (cloud, analytics, security, etc.) and the component technologies that make these possible (such as IoT, fiber, 5G and edge). Another common thread is the growth and expansion of network infrastructure – including satellite constellations delivering broadband – and ways to layer 5G over existing infrastructure. 

The ability of 5G broadband internet to make faster cellular service available to more devices in more crowded areas is an industry driver for both U.S. and EMEA events. Likewise, the rise of smaller, cheaper and more powerful satellites that can form constellations to deliver broadband internet to regions lacking on-ground telecommunications infrastructure is also of strong interest to both shows. 

The bottom line? At the global level, the push to digitize more areas of business technology has resulted in more services being layered on top of service provider delivery. Being able to deliver this massively increased amount of data over the network at blazing fast speeds, at scale, is a paramount and growing priority. 

Two great opportunities 

MWC Las Vegas and MWC Barcelona differ notably in size and regional focus. Yet, both converge on themes of mobile technology, 5G and connected experiences. Barcelona emphasizes European telcos and digitalization, while Las Vegas highlights edge computing and collaboration within the ecosystem. It’s important to recognize that attending one doesn’t exclude the other. Both events provide extensive networking and learning opportunities, making it potentially advantageous for organizations to participate in both, leveraging their distinctive insights and potential. 

I’ll be attending MCW in Las Vegas and look forward to meeting with clients and spotting industry trends. I’ve got a few meeting slots available; you can sign up here. I hope to see you there! 


Ready to take your marketing program
to the next level? We can help.