+ Tuesday December 17th, 2019

The news for Huawei this morning is frankly pretty grim. The company, which had high hopes the likes of Google and Microsoft (and others) would be granted licences to deal with the Chinese tech giant, has not been quite so fortunate.

There were reports over the weekend that Huawei may receive a further two week reprieve to the US trade ban which will significantly hurt its business, and it seems they weren’t quite accurate. On the contrary, the US Government has granted a third 90-day reprieve .. but that’s not really good news.

In announcing the extension overnight, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said:

“The [reprieve] extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark.

The Department will continue to rigorously monitor sensitive technology exports to ensure that our innovations are not harnessed by those who would threaten our national security.”

Far from softening the approach towards Huawei, the US Government’s message remains clear – the reprieve has nothing to do with any benefit to Huawei, and everything to do with making sure that the government’s moves don’t hurt the interests of carriers in remote areas. Nothing more.

Ross also clarified that any licences to US companies to allow them to trade with Huawei would be considered with the presumption of denial. Ross went on to clarify the concerns held about Huawei:

… alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, among other illicit activities.

Those aren’t the words, or the rationale, of a government which is on the precipice of allowing US companies to deal with Huawei, in this writer’s humble opinion.

Huawei, for it’s part, is remaining fairly quiet on the issue at the moment. In a brief statement, the company confirmed that:

… our existing products will continue to operate as usual. All Huawei smartphones and tablets pre-installed with Google services and apps will continue to receive software and security updates. Anyone who has already bought or is about to buy one of these devices will still be covered by our manufacturer’s warranty and will receive full service support.

As for the future, we don’t speculate on what’s to come but remain optimistic and grateful to our loyal Aussie consumers.

Perhaps the news isn’t all bad, as the company’s carrier arm hasn’t – it seems – actually been banned from participating in New Zealand’s 5G rollout. ITHome reports (via GizChina) that Spark continues to use Huawei gear and include it in its 5G plans.

Last year, the New Zealand Communications Security Bureau stopped Spark Telecom from using Huawei’s 5G equipment. In April of this year, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claimed that NZ had not banned Huawei – as was being reported at the time – and that it would not capitulate to the influence of the United States.

Spark has more recently clarified that it not only uses Huawei 5G equipment but also ranks Huawei as one of the top three preferred suppliers in its multi-vendor supplier list. That said, Reuters reports that Spark favours use of Nokia equipment, but Huawei remains on the preferred vendor list.

Ultimately, though, NZ is a small market and its use – or not – of Huawei equipment in its 5G networks is of interest but little more.

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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