Huawei has long held out that its ban from participating in 5G in Australia was the wrong call, but with the company being banned from many markets worldwide, it didn’t really have much hope of convincing Australia to move.
This last week, though, Huawei has found some success in trying to re-enter the 5G segment, with the UK deciding to allow the Chinese telecoms company to build part of the country’s 5G infrastructure.
A key element of the Australian decision to exclude Huawei from 5G networks was concern that the 5G core network could not be “split” from the radio/edge parts of the network, given the more integrated nature of 5G networking.
However, the reversal of the UK ban shows that this concern was not well founded. Huawei Australia’s Jeremy Mitchell told the Sydney Morning Herald that the company’s acceptance in the UK made it clear that the Australian government had received some “incorrect technology advice” when it banned Huawei from providing 5G technology to Australia.
“It opens the way for everyone to look at a more fact-based approach,” Mr Mitchell said. “Malcolm Turnbull’s decision was clearly on some incorrect technology advice.”
Huawei is hoping for any relaxation of the current rules which would allow it to supply parts to 5G infrastructure builds in Australia. For the moment, though, it will have to sell carrier equipment elsewhere, as the current rules in Australia make it all but impossible for it to happen here.
Until such time as a ban is reviewed, Huawei’s options in Australia are somewhat limited. For his part, Mitchell says that the business remains focused on protecting its brand and highlighting to the Australian public the costs of not allowing Huawei to participate.
“A lot of people have branded us a risk to Australia. We will continue to fight that. We have been in Australia for 16 years,” he told the SMH. “We are going to protect our brand, we owe that to our customers and staff. We are also going to highlight the economic costs of excluding Huawei and the impact on regional and rural Australia, they are going to be the big losers.”
2020 will be an interesting year for Huawei. They start the year with an interesting predicament. The US export ban started to have an impact on Huawei last year, forced to release a flagship smartphone without Google’s Android services which sadly became a bit of a flop. However, the P30 Pro was given a lick of paint and a bit of an upgrade allowing Huawei to continue to sell a top-shelf consumer smartphone for the rest of the year.
Now that we’re in 2020 though, that strategy won’t work. The Huawei P30 Pro internals are a bit dated now, and can’t really be re-dressed up and sold again this year. With rumours circulating that Huawei won’t be announcing much consumer-facing hardware at the international Mobile World Congress event, eyes will turn towards its next rumoured smartphone – the P40 series – which we might see in the next couple of months.
Will it fare better than the Mate 30 series did? Has Huawei solved more of the software problem that crippled the Mate 30? Can the P40 series sell without Google? Only time will tell.