Trump anticipated to ban 5G networks from using Chinese tech

Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay (Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)
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Sometime in the next few weeks, Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would ban equipment made by Chinese telecoms from US wireless networks, sources told Politico (opens in new tab).

The order has reportedly been long-delayed, and a report indicated the Trump administration was and there’s been internal pressure in the Trump administration to sign the order before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) industry convention in Barcelona at the end of the month. 

The order plays into the Trump administration’s trade war and tensions with China, but it also reflects the US, European and Western-allied countries’ apprehension to install Chinese telecom tech into their current and future wireless infrastructure. 

The US government has been the most outspoken in its suspicions that companies like Huawei have uncomfortably close ties to the Chinese government, and alleged that the company’s tech may even endanger wireless network security with preinstalled backdoors granting Chinese government access -- insinuations Huawei has vehemently denied. 

Naturally, this is all heating up as 5G looms, which will require specialized infrastructure to make networks ready for the new wireless standard. 

The US government has reportedly singled out Huawei in particular, banning its tech (along with tech from ZTE) from government use last fall and urging allies not to buy Huawei communications technology. The larger ban Trump is expected to sign in the next few weeks was originally reported to concern only Huawei and ZTE, but now it’s now rumored to include telecom equipment from all Chinese companies. 

 Where does that leave the US? 

There are other companies to turn to, of course, but Huawei leads the global telecom equipment field with 28% of the market, per Telecom Lead ( ZTE has just over 5%, below Cisco, Ericsson and Nokia). 

But Huawei’s share of the US telecom equipment market is smaller than other countries like the UK, instead mainly supplying smaller American wireless providers, many in rural and remote areas. Banning Huawei could hurt those small carriers, the company stated, and could leave the country falling behind in 5G.

In any case, should the ban be signed, the US will head into MWC with a more concrete policy about who it’s inviting to build out American infrastructure as the world marches toward 5G.

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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.