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Report: AT&T under pressure to cut all ties with HUAWEI including 5G, Cricket Wireless deals

US lawmakers are reportedly encouraging AT&T to cut all commercial ties with HUAWEI over national security concerns.

Published onJanuary 16, 2018

  • US lawmakers are reportedly encouraging AT&T to cut all commercial ties with HUAWEI over national security concerns.
  • A report citing two anonymous US congressional aides suggests any collaboration between the two for AT&T’s planned 5G network could be halted.
  • The sale of HUAWEI phones via AT&T subsidiary Cricket Wireless could also be impacted.

The bad news for HUAWEI keeps on rolling in. Amid allegations that its long-planned partnership with AT&T was scuppered by political pressure, a new report has now suggested that US lawmakers are pushing the US carrier to cut all commercial ties with the Chinese giant over national security concerns.

According to two congressional aides who spoke to Reuters, senators and House members are encouraging AT&T to ditch any potential plans to work with the Shenzhen-based firm on standards for its 5G network. AT&T is expected to roll out its 5G network by the end of 2018 and is competing with Verizon to become the first carrier to offer the high-speed service to US consumers.

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The sale of HUAWEI devices via its subsidiary company, Cricket Wireless, is also mentioned as a point of contention for certain US lawmakers.

In addition, the report suggests that operator China Mobile’s FCC application for a US license, which has been pending since 2011, could be rejected amid similar fears of Chinese espionage.

The move would be another huge blow to HUAWEI should AT&T go through with the reported requests and would represent another hit to the firm’s public image. HUAWEI is no stranger to general accusations that it poses a threat to US security, but the past week has shown that those claims will be a huge barrier to the third largest smartphone manufacturer’s long-term plan to beat Apple and Samsung to the top spot.

CES 2018 was meant to herald a new beginning for the company in the US. HUAWEI had nailed down a deal with AT&T to launch devices in the region via a carrier for the first time, but it fell through at the last minute, forcing HUAWEI to announce that its latest flagship, the Mate 10 Pro, would only come to the US unlocked and without a carrier partner.

Reports began swirling that the agreement was abandoned by AT&T after Senate and House intelligence committees sent a letter to the FCC raising concerns over HUAWEI’s “alleged ties to the Communist Party as well as China’s intelligence and security services.”

Huawei’s CEO of consumer products division, Richard Yu, described the situation as “a big loss for consumers”, while also expressing disappointment that HUAWEI won’t be claiming any revenue via carrier channels – a market which amounts to 90 percent of smartphones sales in the US.

The new report also comes days after a U.S. Representative proposed a new bill that threatens to ban the U.S. government from working with any providers that use HUAWEI (or ZTE) equipment, again citing security concerns.

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