Send to

MWC Shanghai returns as in-person event after pandemic hiatus

June 28, 2023 - 15:41 By Jie Ye-eun
Visitors look around exhibition booths at the MWC Shanghai 2023, at Shanghai New International Expo Center, in Shanghai on Wednesday. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

SHANGHAI -- The Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the Asia edition of the world’s largest mobile communications industry trade show, has returned as an in-person event on Wednesday after a two-year hiatus due to strict COVID-19 restrictions in China.

This year’s event, which runs through Friday at the Kerry Hotel Pudong and Shanghai New International Expo Center in Shanghai, kicked off under the theme of “velocity” and focused on three major areas -- 5G transformation, the Internet of Things and augmented reality.

Organized by the London-based GSMA, MWC Shanghai’s offline return follows the successful staging of the organizer's flagship annual trade show, MWC Barcelona, which took place between February and March this year in Spain.

“Looking back over the past 10 years, the total number of customers served by our industry has nearly doubled from 3.2 billion to 5.4 billion, and China has been a significant part of that growth,” GSMA CEO John Hoffman said in the opening ceremony.

GSMA executives, chiefs of major Chinese mobile carriers and Chinese government officials pose for photos during the opening ceremony of MWC Shanghai held at Kerry Hotel Pudong, in Shanghai on Wednesday. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

China looks to accelerate the rise of 5G communication through this year’s event, investing heavily in telecommunications infrastructure to achieve over 1 billion 5G connections by 2025. More than 10,000 5G base stations were added this year alone throughout Shanghai. By the end of this year, the number is expected to reach around 77,000.

“When you visit MWC Shanghai, you will see the theme of 'no time like the present' running through all the events. What touches us most is that new and existing exhibitors continue to push the envelope and bring cutting-edge innovations to benefit society,” he said.

This year's MWC Shanghai featured three keynotes that provided insight into the new phase of digital transformation, the rise of digital-first networks and the key technologies driving change. Some of the major keynote speakers were -- GSMA Chief Technology Officer Alex Sinclair; Qualcomm Chief Commercial Officer Jim Cathey; Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou and KT Institute of Convergence Technology Vice President Chung Je-min.

Visitors walk into the MWC Shanghai 2023 exhibition venue at Shanghai New International Expo Center, in Shanghai on Wednesday. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Some 300 companies participated in the three-day event to introduce the latest fifth-generation mobile communication application cases and new products and share key technology trends that will shape the future of connectivity.

Affected by the intensified rivalry between the US and China, participants were mostly Chinese telecom firms, including Huawei, China Mobile, China Telecom and Honor. But Chinese smartphone makers such as Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi did not set up exhibition booths.

Major South Korean mobile carriers -- SK Telecom, KT Corp. and LG Uplus -- who were key exhibitors during the MWC in Barcelona, however, had little presence at the Shanghai show this year. Samsung also did not participate in the event this year, while its global rivals such as Qualcomm, Ericsson and Nokia have returned to set up their exhibition booths.

Meanwhile, the Asia Mobile Awards will take place at the MWC Shanghai to recognize individuals, organizations and partners who are making the world a better place across the digital industry. Samsung Electronics’ flagship smartphone Galaxy S23 Ultra has been shortlisted for the best smartphone, while Naver’s private 5G network for the operation of its "brainless" robots is up for the 5G industry challenge award. The results will be announced Thursday morning.

By Jie Ye-eun

Korea Herald correspondent