GSMA takes one step closer to world domination

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Paul Nolan - Telecoms PR consultant to the stars
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I’ve now been plying my trade as a telecoms PR specialist for 12 years. Speculation has existed around the eventual extinction of the CTIA event for at least the last six. We represent a lot of telecoms vendors and very few of them still attend, or exhibit at the combined CTIA event. The demise of these events has come at a time when Mobile World Congress has gone from strength to strength.

But yesterday the GSMA announced a ‘partnership’ with CTIA that basically sees them take full production and management control of forthcoming CTIA events. The inaugural ‘GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas’ joins ‘Mobile World Congress Shanghai’ and its 360 series as supporting acts for Mobile World Congress.

Source: GSMA

The GSMA has created a global juggernaut that shows no sign of slowing down. The formation of its Mobile 360 series has seen it nibbling at the edges of North America for a while. They have always coveted a large North American conference and tradeshow to rival the scale of CES (all be it with a greater business flavour). My guess is that the GSMA decided it’s better to build on something that exists, rather than start from scratch. This was how they assumed control of Mobile World Congress – wrestling it off Informa some years ago.

The advantage of the CTIA partnership to the GSMA is that they get to see how it works out – both in terms of support and footfall and, perhaps more critically, the impact it has on its Barcelona event. One thing is certain in my eyes, the GSMA will have negotiated an option to buy out the rights to the CTIA properties in their entirety after a certain timeframe. If they are successful, the CTIA ties will disappear. If they can’t make it pay, you do wonder what, if anything, the CTIA will be left with.

Could GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas cannibalise support for the Barcelona event? Maybe. I guess time will tell. Most US vendors come to Barcelona to help stretch their tentacles into the international marketplace. I’m not sure having a GSMA event on home soil will change this – not in the short term at least.

It does beg the question of whether or not Barcelona becomes a European-centric event. My guess is that this is the five year plan. Creating three events across key mobile markets has greater monetisation potential than Barcelona and a rejuvenated Shanghai event.

Place your bets on when a large scale LATAM trade show hits the GSMA radar (beyond this years’ inaugural Mobile 360 LATAM event). My bet is that the organisers of the Futurecom event should expect a call from the GSMA’s John Hoffman sometime soon.

From my perspective, I have never been to San Francisco, and I think my chances of going just improved dramatically. CCgroup has a proud record when it comes to supporting its clients at GSMA events, especially Mobile World Congress. Whether positioning clients for speaking engagements, creating GLOMO entries, or media and analyst relations activity, in the run up to and during the event, it’s a unique environment for influencing the global mobile community.

2016 was my twelfth successive Mobile World Congress. It seems that the GSMA is not only content to occupy my mind throughout Christmas with show preparation, it wants a piece of my summer holidays too.

Thanks for that John!  

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