Updated Feb 8, 2020 - Technology

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.

The company, one of the big three cellular equipment firms, along with Nokia and Huawei, is one of the largest exhibitors at the annual Barcelona event, which is slated to take place at the end of this month.

What they're saying:

  • Ericsson: "Ericsson appreciates that GSMA have done everything they can to control the risk," the cellular equipment giant said in a statement. "However, as one of the largest exhibitors, Ericsson has thousands of visitors in its hall each day and even if the risk is low, the company cannot guarantee the health and safety of its employees and visitors."
  • GSMA, the trade group that puts on Mobile World Congress, has previously said it expected only "minimal" impact from the virus. In a statement on Friday, it said Ericsson's move will have "some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact."

Update: Nvidia said late Friday that it, too, is pulling out of the show. "We won’t be sending our employees to this year’s event," the company said in a statement. "Given public health risks around the coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners and customers is our highest concern."

Go deeper

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.

ZTE, LG drop conference plans over coronavirus concerns

The LG pavilion during the Mobile World Congress in 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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.

Mobile World Congress canceled amid Coronavirus concerns

Photo: Matthias Oesterle/Corbis via Getty Images

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.