Reports indicate that Verizon has cancelled plans to sell mobile devices made by Huawei Technologies, a Chinese firm. This will include the new Huawei Mate 10 Pro and the move comes following pressure from the United States’ government. Earlier in the year AT&T also announced that it would not be selling the Mate 10 Pro despite having earlier indicated that it would.
Despite the setback Huawei’s mobile devices will still function on the wireless networks of Verizon as well as AT&T. Huawei will also continue to sell its devices in the United States but through third parties. A direct sales approach where it sells through carriers would have allowed the Chinese device maker a wider reach.
Concerns by the government over Chinese spying is resulting in a potential roadblock as both AT&T and Verizon race to offer 5G. Huawei is aiming to be among the first in the device-manufacturing industry to offer smartphones that 5G-ready. However all indications are that no U.S. carrier will want to sell its Huawei devices directly.
The next-generation 5G service is slated to have a wide variety of uses including in artificial intelligence and driverless cars. Security agencies in the United States as well as some lawmakers are of the view that 5G smartphones manufactured by firms that are linked to authorities in China are a security risk.
“Your phone is the ultimate Trojan horse. If someone has control of your phone, they can do a lot with it. In a nightmare scenario, they can turn on the microphone or the camera and … obtain sensitive info,” a Recon Analytics’ analyst, Roger Entner, said.
Due to the perceived risk, the Trump administration has even been prompted to consider the nationalization of 5G system construction in the United States the way the building of interstate highways was done back in the 1950s. Lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, as well as industry leaders have blasted the plan.
The first time Huawei came under the scrutiny of the United States was in 2003 after Cisco sued the Chinese device maker for stealing software code used in network routers. The allegations were denied by Huawei but the firm went on to become dominant in China’s networking gear market. Currently Huawei is the leading supplier of networking equipment in the world despite having virtually no presence in the United States as no American wireless carrier uses its gear, or networking from any other Chinese manufacturer for that matter.