US relaxes Huawei restrictions for standardization activities

(Image credit: Future)

The US government plans to make it easier for American firms to participate in international standards activities by relaxing restrictions on sharing technology with ‘blacklisted’ firms such as Huawei.

Washington blacklisted Huawei on national security grounds back in 2019, preventing any US firm from doing business with it unless they were able to obtain a licence.

However, confusion about what activities were permitted under the restrictions led to concerns that the US would have a reduced influence at meetings that define global technology and telecommunications standards like 5G.

Huawei US

The US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has now sought to end confusion and mitigate the threat of China taking a more active role in such activities. 

It has given authorisation to a new rule that allow certain ‘low level’ technology and software to be released in the context of standards setting and development.

“US stakeholders need to be fully engaged in international standards organisations, particularly where the critical but sometimes invisible standards that they set have important national security as well as commercial implications,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez. 

“Today’s rule provides much needed clarification to US industry and other organisations that will allow for continued US leadership in these critical bodies.”

The blacklisting of Huawei formed part of a wider assault on the company in the years prior. Although Huawei was effectively been frozen out of the US market to date, it did supply a number of smaller, rural operators who rely on the firm’s relatively inexpensive gear. Washington has approved a funding package for these carriers to strip out this equipment and replace it with alternatives.

Huawei has persistently denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

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.