US gives Huawei and suppliers 90 days’ breathing space

21 May 2019277 Views

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New reprieve for Huawei intends to prevent mass disruption for networks and users.

The US government has granted Huawei a 90-day reprieve on a ban preventing US firms supplying the Chinese company in order to prevent massive disruption.

However, the founder of the Chinese telecoms equipment and smartphone maker, Ren Zhengfei, said the company has been preparing for such a ban and won’t be disrupted.

‘The US government’s actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities’
– REN ZHENGFEI

The saga hit boiling point this week when Google revealed it would be cutting Huawei off from updates to the Android operating system – despite Huawei being a critical part of Android’s success – to comply with the Chinese company being put on an ‘Entity List’, preventing US firms supplying it.

This was followed by the news that chipmakers such as Intel, Xilinx and Qualcomm would be complying with the ban orchestrated by the administration of US president Donald Trump.

Sabre-rattling over surveillance

To prevent mass disruption to telecoms operators that rely on Huawei equipment, US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross granted a licence that will run until 19 August to give the supply chain time to accommodate the impact of the ban.

The US is imposing restrictions because of allegations that Huawei is abetting surveillance from China, a claim the company and Beijing hotly deny.

It also forms part of a wider narrative as part of a trade war between the US and China.

“The Temporary General License grants operators time to make other arrangements and the department space to determine the appropriate long-term measures for Americans and foreign telecommunications providers that currently rely on Huawei equipment for critical services,” said Ross.

“In short, this licence will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks.”

Ross said the licence authorises certain activities necessary to the continued operations of existing networks and to support existing mobile services, including cybersecurity research critical to maintaining the integrity and reliability of existing and fully operational networks and equipment.

Reports suggest that Huawei has stockpiled as much as three months’ worth of components but once this runs out and the reprieve has run its course, an enormous question mark will be placed on the company’s ability to supply future network equipment for 5G, an area where the US is all too painfully aware the Chinese company has the lead.

Ren said in a television interview with China’s CCTV that the company is prepared for this situation.

“The US government’s actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities,” he said.

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com