Huawei chief offers to sell 5G technology and patents to another company

13 Sep 2019

Mobile World Congress 2019. Image: Huawei

A prospective buyer would be given access to Huawei’s portfolio of 5G technology.

In what is being described as “an olive branch to the West”, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei is contemplating selling its 5G technnology to a company based outside of Asia.

First reported in The Economist, Zhengfai said that the buyer would be free to modify key elements of the technology and block access to the products it creates. For a one-off payment (the amount of which was not disclosed), a buyer would have access to the Chinese telecoms’ portfolio of 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and more.

Zhengfai’s stated aim is to create a rival firm that could compete with his company. This would, Zhengfei hopes, assuage alarm coming from many corners of the world at the prospect of a Chinese company having unilateral control over the world’s latest mobile phone networks.

“A balanced distribution of interests is conducive to Huawei’s survival,” Zhengfei said.

Trade battle

Huawei has been at the centre of a protracted trade battle between China and the US for months. In May, the Trump administration placed Huawei on an entity list, effectively banning it from doing business with US companies. As a result, the telecoms giant was forced to cut ties with Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, Google and Microsoft, the impact of which sent shockwaves through the business.

Members of the US government, meanwhile, have attempted to convince other nations to also cease trading with Huawei and not use its equipment for 5G networks, claiming that the company is using its technology to enable espionage sanctioned by China.

The UK has yet to make a decision as to whether it will continue to involve Huawei in its planned 5G infrastructure, but said it will confirm by the end of this year.

Huawei has flatly denied all of the allegations and has, in turn, accused the US of launching cyberattacks on the company, sending FBI agents to the homes of employees and using “every tool at its disposal to disrupt normal business operations of Huawei and its partners”.

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic