For the cover of the Mobile Communications supplement, we found artistic inspiration from one-time Barcelona resident Pablo Picasso in our tribute to the city's other famous resident – GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC). This annual event combines the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry and gathering of Chief Executives and other dignitaries from up and down the global mobile supply chain. And in 2012, Barcelona has even more reason to celebrate the return of MWC.

MWC, initially called 3GSM when it started in 1987, was hosted in Cannes until 2006 after which it moved to Barcelona. Over the past few years, rumors of a new location have been spreading throughout the exhibition halls as the organizers put the show out to bid. In considering a possible new venue, GSMA undertook a thorough and complex evaluation process, starting with 30 cities, narrowing it down to six before reducing the number of candidates down to a short list of four finalists. Cities such as Munich, Milan and Paris aggressively vied for the opportunity to host the event. But then in July, after an 18-month search, the GSMA announced that Barcelona had been selected as the "Mobile World Capital" from 2012 to 2018.

As the Mobile World Capital, Barcelona will remain as the host of the industry's largest yearly event. The cornerstone of the Mobile World Capital is the four-day MWC, which attracted more than 60,000 attendees from 200 countries in 2011. Attendees included 3000 CEOs, government delegations from 131 countries and more than 2900 media representatives. Starting in 2013, the MWC will be relocated within the city to the cutting-edge venue Fira de Barcelona Gran Via.

In addition to MWC, the Mobile World Capital features two additional elements: the Mobile World Centre and the Mobile World Festival. The Mobile World Centre will be composed of permanent and temporary exhibitions that meld culture and technological innovation, facilities for the development and incubation of mobile solutions, and retail and hospitality venues. The Mobile World Festival, which is targeted to the general public, will incorporate a range of activities, including sporting events, music and art festivals, film awards, applications and technology fairs and more.

According to estimates from the Barcelona Candidacy, the Mobile World Capital would bring, in the first year alone, more than 300 million euro, along with thousands of part-time jobs. As some of the initiatives have a mid-term reach and will grow steadily during their implementation, the economic impact is expected to increase progressively and, based on Barcelona's assessments, could reach 3.5 billion euro over the seven years.

As for MWC 2012, the keynote speakers are once again C-level telecommunication executives representing the top of the food chain. Network CEOs from AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, Vodafone, Ericsson and Telecom Italia will join CEOs from major handset OEMs, such as Nokia and HTC, to discuss the future direction and immediate concerns of the industry. Some of the focus sessions will examine mobile innovations, strategies, addressing network capacity, regional focus and network technology evolution.

From the RF/microwave component sector, companies participating at MWC are particularly active in the commercial communications side of test and measurement equipment, semiconductor and chipsets, cables/connector and high power passive components, antennas, femto-cells and backhaul equipment manufacturing. On the test and measurement side, we are anticipating major product announcements from companies such as Aeroflex, Agilent, Anritsu, Rohde & Schwarz and Spirent. RFIC manufacturers, such as TriQuint Semiconductor, RFMD, Skyworks, Anadigics and Avago, will most likely show up with a hail of new products as well.

In this month's special mobile communications supplement, we are pleased to have Fred Schindler, Director of RFMD's Boston Design Center, and his colleagues discuss how power amplifier design is impacted by the higher data rates and linearity requirements called for by LTE. This is no small challenge for the RFIC designer and should be of considerable interest to anyone working with a mobile device front-end.

Complementing this cover story, we are also featuring a perspective piece from Ron Williamson of Aeroflex Test Solutions on the future of RFIC test strategies. Williamson talks about the growing cost and equipment investment for RFIC ATE systems and how PXI/AXIe instrumentation and infrastructure offer an alternative production test environment with the benefit of high MTBF, fast test times and system coherency. Also discussing test issues for mobile communications, Agilent Technologies writes about the design and test challenges for the physical layer of base station and user equipment brought on by the carrier aggregation called for by ITU's IMT-Advanced 4G.

Along with articles on the co-existence of point-to-point microwave links, the design of a compact MIMO antenna using metamaterials, addressing traffic and channel power distribution, low PIM connectors and GPS ICs, Microwave Journal covers a lot of ground in this month's supplement, not unlike the new Mobile World Capital. So here is to Barcelona and MWC. I am glad mobile decided to be stationary.