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Calls grow for Mobile Congress to quit Barcelona

Dangerous and expensive
Mon Feb 18 2008, 10:52

IN THE aftermath of this year's massive Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, calls are growing for its organiser – the GSMA – to change the venue.

One of the complaints about the show's previous venue – Cannes in France, was that the hotels were too expensive. However, Barcelona's own local radio reported an instance where one hotel was charging eight times the normal rate – just because the conference was on.

The INQ was offered a fairly typical single room for an amasing €245 a night towards the tail end of the show.

There are reports, however, that "After last years' [2007’s] crime wave at Mobile World Congress, the GSMA had an audience with the Mayor of Barcelona to say that if it didn't improve this year - then it would move the show."

The muggings haven't stopped. One participant – who asked not to be named, had his mobile phone stolen while an ex-colleague is still in a Barcelona hospital after having been stabbed. There's also a report on Mydigitallife here of a journalist losing a rucksack containing all her worldly goods.

She said, "There were about 10 of us at the police station, and the victims … were from different countries and race groups, representing a wide spectrum of ICT companies, all attending the Mobile World Congress."

The GSMA did put out written security warnings with the bumf which accompanied the show information. There was also a heavy police presence at the nearest subway station warning attendees to take off their show badges and beware of pickpockets.

The GSMA doesn't help matters, however, with its insistence on journalists showing some form of photo ID. The INQ tried showing a Citzencard it obtained to gain entrance into Glastonbury but the official demanded a passport. So all us Brits are forced to carry their passports on the first day. Which doesn't help.

The GSMA couldn't be reached for a comment this morning. µ


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