Barcelona becomes the World’s capital of mobile phone technology

From this Monday to the coming Thursday, the Catalan capital is hosting the annual world’s most important cell phone technology event, the Mobile World Congress. About 55,000 people and 1,300 companies will attend the conference, which will generate more than 200 million euros of profit for the local economy. Barcelona needs to do its utmost best this year, as the host city from 2013 onwards is still not decided.

CNA / Paula Mateu

February 14, 2011 10:19 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- From Monday 14th of February to Thrusday 17th of February, Barcelona will be the focus of the world’s cell phone industry. The CEOs and Chairmans of the world’s most important companies of like AT&T, Google, Microsoft, China Mobile, Telefónica, or Nokia will attend the congress and present the latest news from the sector. New models, new applications, new ideas and concepts will be presented and discussed among 55,000 attendees and more than 1,300 companies. The Mobile World Congress, the largest trade fair of the cell phone industry kicked off  on Monday in Barcelona. It is the 6th consecutive year that Barcelona organises the annual conference but in 2013 it could be another city’s responsibility. The congress’ organisers have to decide before June which city will organise the 2013 edition and the next 4 editions. Barcelona, Milan and Munich seem to be the best-placed candidates. Therefore, on this edition, Barcelona needs to show all its potential. The city seems to be ready for the challenge. Extra transport means are in place, security is tight, the city hotels are all set and the city shops and restaurants hope to increase their business.

According to the organisers, this year’s congress will leave the economic crisis behind. 55,000 people will attend the congress, 5,000 more than last year’s edition. From all the attendees, 30% are high executives from the 1,300 companies participating. Visitors from all over the world will occupy the 30,000 hotel rooms available. It is expected they will bring about more than 200 million euros of profit to the cities economy. These figures show the importance of this event.

Hotels are full

Among those profiting the most from the event are hotel owners from Barcelona and surrounding areas. According to the city’s hotel gild, between the 14th and the 17th of February, the hotel occupancy rate is 95%. Even in other places of Barcelona metropolitan area, such as the coastal and tourist town of Sitges (20 minutes away from Barcelona) will have 90% of its hotel beds full.

Transport means ready

Barcelona-El Prat airport foresees operating a minimum of 148 landings and taking offs of private jets, which is the double of those registered during a regular week. In addition, it is expected that 30% more passengers will go through the airport than those of a regular week. For this reason, AENA (the Spanish Airport Authority) has increased its staff.

The high profile of some of the attendees has also been noticed in the demand of luxury transport means. 800 limos will be going along Barcelona streets. Some had to come from other parts of Spain or France for the occasion, because in Catalonia there are not enough limos.

Catalan participation

Among the 1,300 companies, 21 will be Catalan and 67 from the rest of Spain. In fact, the congress hosts a Catalan pavilion, with seven companies and a technological centre. In addition, the Catalan public business development organisation, ACC1O, promoted the participation of 10 ‘start-ups’, new companies that are starting on the business, on the sector of cell phone applications. 6 other Catalan companies will participate on the Mobile Venture Forum, where they will try to find investors ready to wage on them.

Barcelona’s final test

With this year edition, Barcelona puts its prestige and efficiency to test. It already organised the 6 previous editions of the Mobile World Congress and still has to organise the 2012 edition. However, this 2011 edition is the most delicate one. It is the largest one but especially is the edition after which they congress organisers will have to decide if they repeat the location for the next 5 editions or if they find another place. Barcelona’s candidature is in a very good position, but so are Munich’s and Milan’s. These other cities are also betting to get the privilege to organise the world’s most important conference on cell phone technology from 2013 onwards. The congress’ organisation down-played the controversy on the hotel fares and stated that Barcelona is one of the few European cities where 21,000 hotel rooms can be found at a “correct price”, which is agreed among the company and the hotel gild.