Huawei is unconcerned that ongoing US hostility will have a long-term impact on the company’s prospects but believes it is in the industry’s best interests that the dispute comes to an end.
The Chinese telecom equipment giant was blacklisted earlier this year, meaning it is unable to do business with American firms. This has limited Huawei’s access to American technologies and components.
While the handset side of the equation is a little more complex, Huawei is now shipping 5G base stations without US-made components. It also has research facilities around the world – not just in China – and spends billions of pounds in R&D every year.
“As far as the networking equipment is concerned, it’s done,” said Paul Scanlan, CTO of Huawei’s carrier business group. “In terms of cooperation with the US, there is limited or no impact on 5G development.
“Yes, we can make things without US products, but is that a good thing for the industry? 2019 will go down as the year that the fully integrated supply chain got interrupted.”
US firms that have been lobbying Washington for exemptions to the ban would argue the situation isn’t a good thing because they will lost revenue. Huawei, meanwhile, has concerns about fragmentation and limited access to US firms ahead of the arrival of 6G.
“We need to respect and learn from American companies, “added Scanlan. “We spent in excess of $11 billion in the supply chain. When it comes to research, we don’t invest in universities to steal ideas – it’s about collaboration, it’s about finding the best talent. [Mobile networks] are all about ecosystem.
“The US and Europe are so important to Huawei as they allow us to become part of a global supply chain and allow us to [gain a greater understanding].”
Huawei has frequently denied any allegations of wrongdoing and has even offered several concessions. Recent report suggested the company could move some production to Europe to ease security concerns but the most notable proposal was an offer by founder Ren Zhengfei for any company to licence Huawei’s 5G technology – something Scanlan admits was a bit leftfield.
“We’ve done it before. In 2003 we licensed our 3G technology to Motorola so it’s nothing new – it’s a genuine offer. If you genuinely don’t trust us and there’s a company capable of doing something with [our IP], then go for it and compete with us.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.