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Photo: Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

GSMA, the trade group that puts on Mobile World Congress, said Monday the event will take place in person in Barcelona in June, while also announcing a series of new procedures it hopes will assuage health concerns. However, key player Ericsson said Tuesday that it won't be taking part.

Why it matters: The event is the biggest wireless industry trade show and a key source of funds for the GSMA. However, many are skeptical of holding an event with tens of thousands of people, many of whom won't have yet been vaccinated.

Driving the news: GSMA has already pushed the event from February to June, and on Monday it announced details of a plan that calls for attendees to be tested for COVID-19, but doesn't require them to have been vaccinated.

Details... Under the plan:

  • Attendees will have to test negative within 72 hours of the show and be tested again every 72 hours.
  • The venue will have more entrances and exits and improved ventilation, with temperature checks at all entrance points.

Yes, but: A much smaller gathering in California that relied on testing and similar precautions resulted in a significant outbreak infecting two dozen attendees, including organizer Peter Diamandis.

Flashback: Organizers eventually canceled last year's event, but only after many of the industry's key players had said they wouldn't attend.

What they're saying: "We believe that we can have around 45,000 to 50,000 attendees, as of today," Stephanie Lynch-Habib, the GSMA's chief marketing officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday.

  • As for Ericsson not taking part, the organization said in a statement: "“We appreciate that it will not be possible for everyone to attend MWC Barcelona 2021. This is why we have developed an industry-leading virtual event platform that will ensure everyone can enjoy the unique MWC experience. The in-person and virtual options are provided so that all friends of MWC Barcelona can attend and participate in a way that works for them.”
  • Nokia, another key mobile infrastructure provider, says it is still monitoring the situation. "We are continuing to evaluate the situation with the safety of our employees and our customers paramount in our planning," the company said in a statement to Axios.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that Ericsson says they won't be taking part in the June event.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.