Feb 11, 2020 - Technology

Cisco, Facebook and Intel also pull out of Mobile World Congress

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images

More large companies are skipping Mobile World Congress amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Among the latest to pull out are AT&T, BT, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Intel, Nokia and Vodafone, who join Ericsson, Sony and LG among large companies pulling out of the annual Barcelona trade show.

Why it matters: MWC is the traditional gathering place of mobile companies from all over the world — and that's the concern.

The board of the GSMA, the trade group that puts on Mobile World Congress, plans to meet Friday to discuss the impact of all the departures, according to Bloomberg.

The group has already implemented a number of new safety precautions, including rules on who can attend from China.

What they're saying:

  • AT&T: "We value our participation in important industry groups like GSMA and deeply respect the steps they have already taken to protect attendees. Unfortunately, the most responsible decision is to withdraw our participation from the event to safeguard our employees and customers."
  • Facebook: "Out of an abundance of caution, Facebook employees won’t be attending this year’s Mobile World Congress due to the evolving public health risks related to coronavirus. We will continue to collaborate with the GSMA and our partners and thank them for their efforts."
  • Intel: "The safety and wellbeing of all our employees and partners is our top priority, and we have withdrawn from this year’s Mobile World Congress out of an abundance of caution. We are grateful to the GSMA for their understanding and look forward to attending and supporting future Mobile World Congress events."
  • Cisco: "We have made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating in Mobile World Congress ... due to concerns about the current outbreak of Coronavirus."

Our thought bubble: Once Ericsson — one of the largest exhibitors — announced plans to withdraw, it gave everyone else cover to do so as well.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include BT, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia and Vodafone in the list of companies not attending the event.

Go deeper

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The organizers of the giant Mobile World Congress said Wednesday that they are canceling the event, which was set to take place at the end of the month, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many key participants in recent days said they would not be attending.

Why it matters: The Barcelona event is the major trade show for the wireless business and a key gathering point for an industry that is spread all over the globe.

Ericsson pulls out of Mobile World Congress amid virus concerns


In the latest blow to the upcoming Mobile World Congress, Ericsson said Friday it is pulling out of the trade show amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Korean phone maker LG already pulled out and China's ZTE cancelled a press conference, raising the question of whether others will cancel plans.

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ZTE, LG drop conference plans over coronavirus concerns

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Two major telecom players — Korea's LG and China's ZTE — are scaling back their presence at the upcoming Mobile World Congress out of concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Mobile World Congress, held at the end of February in Barcelona, is the key trade show for the cell phone industry, and its selling point is the way it brings a very global industry together in one place.