Verizon has been pressured into canceling its plans to launch Huawei smartphones by the U.S. government, say anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg. The rumored decision comes several weeks after AT&T pulled out of a similar deal, apparently for similar reasons, and with potentially similar problems related to the development of a 5G network.
While AT&T was likely to carry the Huawei Mate 10 Pro almost immediately after announcement, Verizon was rumored to be the second stage in Huawei’s grand plan to become better known in the United States, and phones that worked on its network would be introduced in the summer. These rumors now make any launch seem very unlikely.
Huawei will still sell the Mate 10 Pro in the U.S. from February 4, when it will be available for pre-order through Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft stores, and several others. However, without the backing of a carrier it faces an uphill struggle to gain much needed brand recognition, and lacks the ability for people to buy a subsidized version of the $800 smartphone. Huawei chief executive Richard Yu said the Mate 10 Pro not being available with a network was a big loss for consumers, carriers, and Huawei itself.
Outside of this, there are concerns these decisions will impact the widespread development and adoption of 5G networks. A 5G version of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro may arrive in 2019, say Bloomberg’s sources, while the company is also a leader in essential network infrastructure equipment that could speed up the launch of a 5G network. Blacklisting Huawei — and competing Chinese brand ZTE — blocks the use of its equipment and expertise in the area.
A U.S. launch on AT&T and Verizon wouldn’t be the first time Huawei left China. It already sells devices on networks and through partners all around the world. It has consistently been one of the top three smartphone manufacturers globally, and research in September 2017 showed at one point it passed Apple to become world number two. To attain its goal of becoming the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world, it needs to increase sales in North America, India, and some other regions. For now, this won’t happen without a carrier deal locked down in the United States.