Chinese telecom technology and equipment maker Huawei says it’s in the early stages of talks with U.S. telecoms about licensing its 5G network technology to them, a company executive told Reuters.
Huawei SVP/Director of the Board Vincent Pang said some firms expressed interest in both a long-term deal or a one-off agreement; he declined to name or quantify the companies.
“There are some companies talking to us, but it would take a long journey to really finalize everything,” Pang told Reuters. “They have shown interest,” he added, saying conversations are only a couple of weeks old and not at a detailed level yet.
The U.S. government fears Huawei equipment could be used to spy on customers, noting the company has to comply with mandates to do just that from the Chinese government. The U.S. led a campaign to convince allies to bar it from their 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly denied it uses its technology as a backdoor to spy on U.S. telecoms or the federal government. In May, The U.S. placed Huawei on a blacklist over national security concerns, banning it from buying American-made parts without a special license.
The idea of a one-off fee in exchange for access to Huawei’s 5G patents, licenses, code and know-how was first floated by CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei in interviews with the New York Times and The Economist last month. But it was not previously clear whether there was any interest from U.S. companies.
In an interview with Reuters last month, a State Department official was skeptical of Ren’s offer. “It’s just not realistic that carriers would take on this equipment and then manage all of the software and hardware themselves,” the source said. “If there are software bugs that are built in to the initial software, there would be no way to necessarily tell that those are there and they could be activated at any point, even if the software code is turned over to the mobile operators,” the official added.
October 22, 2019