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The GSM Association (commonly referred to as 'the GSMA' or Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile) is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 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]

GSM Association
GSMA logo
TypeIndustry trade body
PurposeRepresenting mobile network operators
HeadquartersLondon, UK
1200 companies

The present Director General of the GSMA is Mats Granryd.[1]


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. It traces its history back to an memorandum of understanding signed in 1987 by 13 operators in 12 countries that committed to deploying GSM for mobile services.[2]

Membership and governanceEdit

Full membership of the GSMA is open to licensed mobile operators using a GSM family technology. Approximately 800 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 300 GSMA member companies in this category.[citation needed]

The GSMA board has 25 representatives from the world’s largest operator groups and selected smaller operators, and is elected bi-annually. Sunil Mittal, the founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises, became GSMA Chairman in January 2017 and will serve a two-year term.[3]

Programmes and advocacyEdit

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.[4][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.[5]

As part of its Industry Purpose programme, the GSMA is supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.[6]


Exhibition floor at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2017

The GSMA Mobile World Congress is the largest annual exhibition and conference dedicated to the mobile industry, attracting more than 108,000 visitors in 2017.[7] 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 and Fira Montjuïc venues. The 2016 event retained a Guinness World Record as the largest carbon neutral trade show in the world.[8]

In addition to Mobile World Congress, the GSMA has organized ‘Mobile World Congress Americas’ together with CTIA in San Francisco ever since 2017.[9].

TAC/IMEI databaseEdit

The GSMA is the global administrator of Type Allocation Code (TAC), which is used to create the International Mobile Station 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. ^ "GSMA appoints Mats Granryd as new director general". The Register. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "Sunil Bharti Mittal elected as GSMA Chairman". Business Standard. 27 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Working groups". GSMA.
  5. ^ "GSMA Annual Report 2017". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "New mobile app launches to drive action on Sustainable Development Goals". United Nations. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  7. ^ "MWC 2017 breaks attendance records". Global Telecoms Business.
  8. ^ "GSMA Mobile World Congress 2016 certified as carbon neutral". GSMA Newsroom. 22 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Mobile World Congress Americas to launch in the US in September 2017". Android Central. 22 June 2016.

External linksEdit