GSMA bans CBOSS from next MWC

08 Mar 2012

If you’re looking for evidence of the growing role of women in the telecoms industry, look no further than the news that Russian OSS/BSS vendor CBOSS has been banned from the next Mobile World Congress by organizer GSM Association.

Reports on various sites state the GSMA took action following regulatory breaches by the vendor, which is more famous for its dancing girls – the CBOSS Stars – than its equipment.

Debate raged at the recent event over whether the girls were getting younger every year or if we were all just getting older. Not that the question deterred the usual crowds of suited businessmen who gathered at the stand to film and photograph the girl’s regular dance routine, which prompted one colleague to question the consequences of returning to wives and girlfriends without making use of the ‘delete’ button on their smartphones.

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper takes credit for having raised concerns about CBOSS’ offer of a romantic dinner with its Stars, and the firm’s apparent bid to drive traffic to its stand by stating the girls would be on hand to ensure meetings ran smoothly.

“Organisers GSMA issued a statement on Tuesday after The Telegraph revealed the dubious practices at the Barcelona trade show,” reporters Katherine Rushton, and Jonathan Russell wrote, referring to a previous article detailing CBOSS’ strategy.

A GSMA spokesman refused to go into the specifics of the decision, telling the newspaper only that there were several issues relating to CBOSS’ continued participation at the event, and that it was a contractual matter that cannot be discussed in public.

The Telegraph’s original article sheds some light on the decision. “Stephanie Liston, director at Women in Telecoms and Technology, described the practice as "shocking",” it reported, referring to the offer of a personal dinner with one of the girls. “The offer of a woman for the evening angered female telecoms executives, who felt that the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), funded by the world's biggest telecoms players and which organises the congress, was turning a blind eye to blatantly sexist behaviour.”

While CBOSS hasn’t commented on the spat, the information on its website is unambiguous regarding what was on the plate at that dinner. For the first time in its 12 year attendance at MWC, the firm was offering a “personal interview at a dinner with one of the CBOSS Stars,” to executives willing to answer questions on the OSS/BSS market.

This seems to be the first time anyone has raised the issue of sexism at the show, which is interesting given that stars of adult movies have been on hand at previous events with apparently no objections.

In any event, a quick look at the snaps from this week’s Geneva Motor Show confirms the telecoms industry remains far less salacious than the automotive industry. Try punching “Mobile World Congress 2012 girls” into your search engine if you don’t believe me.

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