A Huawei executive has reportedly confirmed the company has held talks with US-based companies about licensing its 5G technology for use in the country.
The Chinese mobile giant has effectively been excluded from the US market for some time but formal legislation which bans American companies from doing business with Huawei has restricted its ability to source US technologies.
The blacklisting is based on national security grounds, with the US concerned Huawei-made equipment could be used for espionage. Huawei has emphatically and frequently denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
As a result of this suspicion, Huawei’s sole customer base in the US is among rural operators – many of whom use the company’s kit because it is more affordable than that made by rivals Ericsson and Huawei.
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei first touted the idea of licensing its 5G technology to third parties last month and now Vincent Pang has confirmed early stage talks have been held with unnamed US companies.
“There are some companies talking to us, but it would take a long journey to really finalize everything,” he is quoted as saying.
Reuters says the possibility of both a one off deal and long-term partnership had been discussed. Although the former course of action would see technology, patents and source code made available without further obligation, it would require the licensee to invest billions in R&D to update the technology.
Huawei has spent billions on 5G and it is unclear which, if any, US firms would have the same expertise. In any case, it could be that the US government wouldn’t be convinced that a licensing arrangement would alleviate its security concerns.
Last week at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Zurich, Huawei reiterated its belief that the entire mobile industry should come together to solve the issue of security and treat the debate as technological rather than political.