The withdrawal is another blow to the GSMA industry association hosting the event, which was canceled last year at the last minute as this year’s edition was pushed back to the end of June to maximize its chances of happening.
“At this time, we still do not believe there is any justification for taking this risk for many of our employees,” the Bonn-based group said in a statement to Reuters.
Deutsche Telekom becomes the first major network operator to walk away from this year’s rally, after network equipment makers Nokia and Ericsson and smartphone maker Samsung.
The GSMA – which represents more than 750 telecom operators globally – said on May 20 that the industry’s largest annual gathering could go as planned after Spanish authorities approved its health and safety plan.
The lobby group, which laid off more than 40% of its staff after the cancellation of last year’s show, can hardly afford another wash. Normally, the show attracts over 100,000 visitors and stimulates the local economy.
Deutsche Telekom said that instead of attending, it will host an online event where it will showcase its latest technology. The Telekom Tech Grounds event will take place June 28-29.
Orange, France’s leading network operator, said it still plans to attend Mobile World Congress.