Indian group to Mobile World Congress unfazed by outbreak ‘so far’

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on February 11, 2020

CP Gurnani, MD, CEO, Tech Mahindra

Barcelona event too important to miss, say most; some exercise caution

Unfazed by the novel coronavirus (nCov) outbreak, the Indian contingent for the Mobile World Congress 2020 (MWC 2020), the telecom industry’s biggest trade show, is gearing up to attend the event. The decision is “as of date”, as sponsors and exhibitors continue to monitor the situation closely.

Every year, 3,000-4,000 Indians — including executives from telecom and technology companies, industry experts and government officials — travel to Barcelona, Spain, for the show. And this year is not going to be any different.

“I, along with key leaders, will be present at the MWC this year even if there is just one client or stakeholder to engage with,” said Tech Mahindra Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer CP Gurnani, who is also a keynote speaker at MWC 2020.

Key telecom event

“MWC Barcelona is synonymous with peer conversations, client engagements and strategic announcements. As an industry leader, we always have a prominent participation in MWC. However, this year’s edition is clearly getting impacted by eminent companies, including marquee clients, dropping out. While we plan to participate in MWC, we are also monitoring and accessing the situation closely,” Gurnani added.

Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal (previous chairman of GSMA, the organisers of MWC), Chief Executive Officer Gopal Vittal (also a GSMA board member) and a number of top executives are expected to travel to Barcelona this year.

Reliance Jio Infocomm President Mathew Oommen (also a GSMA board member) and a technology team from the Mukesh Ambani-controlled telecom firm, apart from a number of senior Vodafone Idea executives, are also expected to attend.

“As of today, the organisers expect the event to continue per schedule. Yes, there are some withdrawals, and obviously it will have an impact,” Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Director-General Rajan S Mathews, who is a regular panellist at MWC, told BusinessLine.

Mathews is attending the event along with a delegation from the India Mobile Congress. As many as 42 Indian firms, including Tech Mahindra, Comviva, Hero Electronix, Sterlite Technologies, Tejas Networks and Karix Mobile, are listed as exhibitors with MWC 2020. Officials from the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Department of Telecommunications, and Telecom Equipment & Services Export Promotion Council are finalising their plans for the trip, industry sources said.

Some caution, too

However, a few are yet to take a call. “The outbreak of nCov is spreading,” said Rajdip Gupta, Group CEO at Route Mobile, on his LinkedIn feed. “Keeping in mind the safety of our employees, Route Mobile is monitoring the current situation very closely and we may decide not to attend. The GSMA has to take this situation very seriously and postpone the event to some other date.”

Published on February 12, 2020

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