Ericsson withdraws from MWC over coronavirus threat

Ruben Fields
February 12, 2020

In the meantime, some companies are withdrawing or resetting plans. However, they stated that they are looking forward to share their work on artificial intelligence, 5G and vRAN, and not attending the event is the right decision.

The virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, according to a Reuters count based on official reports, infecting more than 330 people outside China. After an extensive internal risk assessment, Ericsson has made a decision to take further precautionary measures by withdrawing from MWC Barcelona 2020, the largest event in the telecom industry, ' Ericsson said in a statement.

Other companies are adjusting or reducing their plans to adapt to travel and quarantine measures.

MCW has a low-tech idea for reducing virus risks - going hands-free.

Jean-Baptiste Su, chief analyst at Atherton Research in San Jose, California, said he chose not to participate because of virus reasons.

Ericsson said it has chose to withdraw after "a comprehensive internal risk assessment".

The company said it "appreciates" what GSMA (the association which organizes the MWC, op. ed) has done to mitigate the coronavirus risk.

More important is the signal that it sends.

Coronavirus deaths top 1,000 in China, including 108 in past 24 hours
The respiratory disease has killed at least 910 people, mostly in mainland China, and sickened more than 40,000 others. During a press conference, Tedros urged countries to be "as aggressive as possible" in fighting the outbreak.

"Ericsson can be the start of a domino rally", said Fogg. "It gives smaller vendors permission to potentially pull from attending".

"They would say it's expensive but it's the best investment they could make in meeting customers and filling the sales pipeline for the year", said one PR executive. He said cost is also a factor because exhibitors have already paid their fees.

"I hope there are no more such announcements", from Ericsson and LG, "Colau told Catalan TV3 on Friday".

"The cancellation of Ericsson will now have some impact on our presence and may have further impact", the group said.

Organisers and local authorities have been scrambling to contain worries about the virus this week. Those events will take place later this year.

Given public health risks around the coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners and customers is our highest concern.

"This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to global travel, which most health experts have advised", LG said. The company will not hold a press conference, it will instead be there with a stand. Incidentally, Spain has reported the first case of the virus a week ago.

The novel coronavirus outbreak is not just claiming lives across the globe, but causing harm to trade as well.

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