After Huawei announced its flagship smartphone will not be sold by U.S. carriers, rumors surfaced the deal fell through due to security concerns. Now, sources close to the matter claim U.S. lawmakers are urging AT&T to cut commercial ties with the Chinese company altogether — including any involvement in 5G development, Reuters reports.
According to the report, politicians are advising U.S. firms that having any ties to either Huawei or China Mobile could ruin their ability to do business with the U.S. government. In addition, two Republican lawmakers have already introduced a bill that bars the U.S. government from using or contracting Huawei as well as ZTE devices.
In 2016, Huawei was reportedly met with security concerns due to its networking equipment. The issue primarily stemmed from a 2012 congressional report suggesting U.S. carriers should stay away from Huawei and ZTE gear because “China might use it to spy on Americans.”
The call to end its 5G development is also due to security concerns, since it could potentially allow China to access other foreign networks. While AT&T declined to comment, the carrier did tell Reuters it had made no decisions on 5G suppliers.
The news comes after AT&T was reportedly pressured into dropping the deal earlier this month — due to a letter written by a group of lawmakers to the Federal Communications Commission expressing their concerns over Huawei’s plans to sell its products through a U.S. carrier, The Information reports. The letter specifically cited Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government — a concern that has caused the company difficulty breaking into the U.S. in the past.
But AT&T isn’t the only carrier that might be giving into the pressure. According to Android Police, a source familiar with Verizon’s plans says the carrier is reportedly also planning on canceling the launch of a Huawei smartphone later this year.
While it’s unclear whether Verizon was planning on selling the Mate 10 or the Mate 10 Pro, the launch was originally supposed to happen this summer and was pushed back to the fall season instead. Following the recent events with AT&T, it seems Verizon is now supposedly canceling the launch altogether — also due to security reasons.
Huawei already sells budget devices in the U.S., but not through carriers — they can be purchased through Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and other retailers. It also sold the Mate 9 through Amazon, after a soft launch during CES 2017.
Regardless, Huawei will still launch the Mate 10 Pro in the U.S. on February 18 for $800. You’ll be able to purchase it through Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft stores, Newegg, and B&H Photo. For more details on the launch and the device, be sure to check out our news post.
Challenges for Huawei
In addition to security concerns, there have also been technical obstacles when it comes to cellular standards. The Mate 10 Pro is sold as a GSM mobile device internationally, but since Sprint and Verizon use CDMA networks, Huawei would have to adapt its processors to be compatible with those networks.
Security and technological issues aside, being able to sell its devices via U.S. carriers would solve the lack of presence Huawei has in the country. By selling a flagship line to U.S. carriers, the company would work to possibly grow its presence via U.S. retailer stores, TV commercials, and carrier websites. Sources told Bloomberg that Huawei does plan to sell the Mate 10 device via ecommerce channels as well.
Regardless of the competition, Huawei is still the third-largest smartphone manufacturer — behind Apple and Samsung. The earliest reports claimed Xiaomi — another hugely popular Chinese smartphone brand — was also in discussions with U.S. carriers.
Update: U.S. lawmakers are reportedly urging AT&T to cut commercial ties with Huawei