The GSMA revealed around 120,000 people accessed MWC21 Barcelona across virtual platforms and physically in the Fira Gran Via, with 20,000 attending in person.

Held with strict safety protocols in place, MWC21 featured high-profile keynote speakers including SpaceX chief engineer Elon Musk and a host of operator CEOs representing some of the largest groups in the world.

During the four-day event delegates from 117 countries and territories attended in person, with this reach increased to 165 when including those present online.

The GSMA noted more than half of attendees were directors with 1,500 C-suite executives among those physically present. More than 1,000 companies backed the show covering exhibitors, sponsors and partners.

MWC21 Barcelona was one of the first major industry events held in person since the start of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Among the stringent safety measures in place to protect attendees were regular testing, and rules around social distancing and mask wearing. Attendance was also capped from its usual levels of above 100,000.

Alongside releasing official figures for MWC21 Barcelona, the industry association confirmed its 2022 edition would return to its traditional time of year with the conference set for 28 February to 3 March.

A number of key partners are already said to have confirmed plans to exhibit and attend next year including: Ericsson, Deutsche Telekom, Intel, Dell, Nokia, NEC, Orange, Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm, Telefonica, Verizon and ZTE.

MWC21 Barcelona was the first edition held at the venue since 2019 after the pandemic forced the event’s cancellation in 2020. The GSMA, though, did hold MWC21 Shanghai earlier this year as restrictions began to lift.

“The pandemic has indelibly changed how we gather. We had to develop new health and safety protocols and a hybrid platform but, we did it,” GSMA director general Mats Granryd (pictured) said. “MWC21 created momentum and is helping us reimagine what events look like.”

GSMA Ltd CEO John Hoffman noted in 2020 “we were faced with a fast-moving coronavirus and were the first organisation to cancel a large international event over health and safety concerns”.

“Last week we reignited business by bringing together the mobile and adjacent vertical ecosystems at MWC21 in a safe and healthy environment.”

The GSMA’s next physical MWC event will be held in Los Angeles on 26 to 28 October.