Mobile World Congress 2019 opens its doors in Barcelona

Over next four days more than 100,000 due to visit world's largest fair devoted to mobile tech sector

Image of the Mobile World Congress main entrance on February 25, 2019 (by Laura Pous)
Image of the Mobile World Congress main entrance on February 25, 2019 (by Laura Pous) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 25, 2019 11:04 AM

The world's largest trade fair for the mobile industry, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), officially opened its doors in Barcelona on Monday ready to show off the latest mobile technology to over 100,000 people from all over the world expected to visit the event.

This year's show focuses on smart connectivity through the fusion of 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The fair in the Gran Via venue, which runs until February 28, this year welcomes more than 2,400 exhibitors from over 200 countries.

During the four days the fair lasts, many of the world's top tech companies will show off their latest innovations, such as the Hololens 2 glasses from Microsoft, a next-generation "mixed reality" headset that blends virtual and augmented reality.

Another novelty at the fair is Huawei's new Mate X smartphone, which boasts 5G connectivity and features a foldable screen. The new gadget from the Chinese company follows on the heels of a similar device brought out last week by Samsung.

Biometric recognition entry system

With the organizers hoping to match, or even exceed, the 107,000 people who visited the MWC last year, Monday morning saw long lines of people waiting to get into the convention center, which this year uses a biometric recognition system to allow visitors entry to the fair.

One of them, Jeff Lee, from the US, told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that the delay to get in "is no surprise" considering the "large number of visitors," and he said he was looking forward to finding out about the latest cloud and 5G technology.

Danish-American, Sandra Mark, also said she is looking forward to finding out more about 5G, which she described as "exciting" technology with "great potential," and said one of her concerns at the MWC is the challenge of sustainable technological development.

World's tech giants present at the fair

Inside the Gran Via venue, visitors will be able to visit the stands or attend talks by executives from thousands of companies, including some of the world's largest tech firms, such as Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Microsoft, Cisco and Telefonica.

Closer to home, vehicle manufacturer Seat, which has its production plant in Catalonia, will be presenting its first 5G-connected vehicle, while the Catalan medical emergency service, the SEM, will show off its new ambulance installed with the same technology.

Surgery with 5G

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, surgeons from Barcelona's Clínic hospital will remotely carry out an operation to be streamed over 5G. Earlier in the month, the hospital became the first in Spain to adopt 5G technology for surgeons to carry out operations at a distance in real time.

The MWC is arguably Barcelona's largest trade event of the year, with an economic impact on the city of 473 million euros. During the event, 27,000 hotel rooms are reserved in the Catalan capital, while the Gran Via venue has wi-fi for 65,000 simultaneous connections.

Official inauguration and protests over king's attendance

The fair officially opened on Monday, with an event attended by the Catalan president, Quim Torra, his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, and the King of Spain, Felipe VI.

Some activities related to the trade show took place over the weekend. One of the most controversial was the event's inaugural dinner in the MNAC national gallery on Montjuïc, which was attended by King Felipe VI.

Outside the palace, pro-independence activists protested the presence of the Spanish king, while inside Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, praised republican values, and president Quim Torra in his speech made allusions to the deposed government of Carles Puigdemont.