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GSM Association
Formation1995; 29 years ago (1995)
TypeIndustry trade body
PurposeRepresenting mobile network operators
HeadquartersLondon, England, UK
1200 companies

The GSM Association (commonly referred to as 'the GSMA' or Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile) is a lobby organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. More than 750 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members. The GSMA represents its members via industry programmes, working groups and industry advocacy initiatives.[citation needed]


The original GSM MoU document: "A Pan-European 900MHz Digital Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Service" (dated 7 September 1987)

The GSMA was formed in 1995 as the 'GSM MoU Association' as a body to support and promote mobile operators using the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) standard for cellular networks. It traces its history back to a memorandum of understanding signed in 1987 by 13 operators in 12 countries that committed to deploying GSM for mobile services.[1][failed verification]

Membership and governance[edit]

Full membership of the GSMA is open to licensed mobile operators using a GSM family technology. Approximately 750 such operators around the world are full GSMA members. Associate membership of the GSMA is open to non-operator companies active in the mobile ecosystem. These include handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. There are approximately 400 GSMA member companies in this category.[2]

The GSMA board has 25 representatives from the world's largest operator groups and selected smaller operators, and is elected bi-annually. José María Álvarez-Pallete López, CEO of Telefónica Group, became GSMA Chairman in January 2022., [3]

The present Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd, took office in January 2016.[4][5]

Programmes and advocacy[edit]

The GSMA manages industry programmes in collaboration with its members with the aim of achieving scale and interoperability for new mobile technologies. It has three active programmes: 'Future Networks' (promoting standards such as Rich Communication Services and Voice over LTE); 'Identity'; and the 'Internet of Things'.[citation needed]

It also runs industry working groups covering areas such as roaming and interconnection, fraud and security, and intellectual property, as well as various other specialist committees and groups.[6][need quotation to verify]

The GSMA represents the mobile industry to governments and institutions where it advocates policy and regulatory positions on behalf of its members. Its stated goals in this area is to ensure that mobile telecoms "policy and regulatory frameworks are fair, flexible and future-proof"; that radio spectrum is made available for mobile services "in a timely and fair manner"; and to promote the use of mobile services in emerging markets.[7]

As part of its Industry Purpose programme, the GSMA is supporting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.[8][failed verification]


Exhibition floor at GSMA MWC Barcelona 2019

The GSMA's Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC Barcelona) is the largest annual exhibition and conference dedicated to the mobile industry, attracting more than 109,000 visitors in 2019.[9] The event was first held in 1987.

Since 2006, the event has been hosted in Barcelona and is currently located at the Fira Gran Via venue. In 2019 the event was recognised, for the fourth time, as the Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest carbon-neutral tradeshow.[10]

In addition to MWC Barcelona, the GSMA organises MWC Kigali,[11] MWC Shanghai,[12] MWC Las Vegas[13] and the 'Mobile 360' series of regional events.[14]

TAC/IMEI database[edit]

The GSMA is the global administrator of Type Allocation Code (TAC), which is used to create the International Mobile Equipment Identity number that can uniquely identify wireless devices.

It allocates official IMEI number ranges to all manufacturers of 3GPP compliant devices and records these ranges and device model information in a database. It offers a device look up and identification service based on this database that allows authorised third-party organisations to identify the manufacturer and model of a mobile device using the IMEI.


  1. ^ "Happy 20th birthday, GSM". ZDNet. Retrieved 7 September 2007. On 7 September, 1987, representatives from 13 countries sat around a table in Copenhagen and signed the Groupe Spécial Mobile memorandum of understanding. [..] The memorandum of understanding that created all this was merely an agreement, not an organisation – the GSM Association didn't actually exist until 1995.
  2. ^ "GSMA membership". Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  3. ^ "GSMA Board Elects New Chair". GSMA. 31 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Director General". GSMA.
  5. ^ "GSMA appoints Mats Granryd as new Director General". GSMA. 23 November 2020. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Working groups". GSMA.
  7. ^ "GSMA Annual Report 2017". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "New mobile app launches to drive action on Sustainable Development Goals". United Nations. 18 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Mobile World Congress boasts record attendance of 109,000 visitors". 28 February 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  10. ^ "GSMA Announces New Developments for MWC Barcelona 2020". GSMA. Associated Press. 3 December 2019.
  11. ^ "MWC Kigali 2023". Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  12. ^ "MWC Shanghai 2021". Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  13. ^ "MWC Las Vegas". Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Mobile 360". Retrieved 24 March 2021.

External links[edit]

GSMA Events