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Report claims AT&T will not sell HUAWEI phones after all (Updated)

Update: According to The Information, security concerns were once more at the heart of HUAWEI's struggle to gain US carrier support.

Published onJanuary 9, 2018

Update (01/09): While we wait for some official news on what happened regarding the breakdown of the anticipated AT&T and HUAWEI deal (more details on which you can read below), The Information [paywall] has offered up some new speculation.

AT&T allegedly called off the deal due to "political pressure," after the Senate and House intelligence committees sent a letter to the FCC raising "fresh concerns" about HUAWEI’s plans. The Information said the letter "cited an intelligence committee report on HUAWEI’s alleged ties to the Communist Party as well as China’s intelligence and security services."

HUAWEI has previously been accused of posing a threat to US national security — claims which it has denied — providing a stigma HUAWEI has struggled to shake. HUAWEI's hopes of gaining official carrier support as it enters the huge US market appear to have been dashed once more because of this.

The Chinese manufacturer had been expected to announce the introduction of its phones with AT&T on stage at CES today, but with the deal now canceled, HUAWEI will have to rethink its plans. Stay tuned for more.

Previous coverage (01/08): CES 2018 was supposed to be a big one for HUAWEI, with rumors that the China-based smartphone company would announce that AT&T would begin selling its phones in the United States. Now, one day before HUAWEI’s CES press conference on Jan. 9, a new report claims that AT&T has decided to back out at the last minute.

The report comes from The Wall Street Journal, via unnamed sources. It does not state why AT&T nixed the carrier deal with HUAWEI, and neither AT&T nor HUAWEI would comment on the WSJ’s report. The story has since been independently verified by The Verge.

This news comes just a couple of months after rumors began to circulate that AT&T would begin selling the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro in February. The lack of a carrier deal for the phone means that HUAWEI must continue to sell the Mate 10 Pro, and its other phones, as unlocked devices on Amazon and other retailers in the U.S. Many companies have been successful with this kind of business model, but many in the industry believe it’s crucial for HUAWEI and other Chinese OEMs to offer their products from wireless carriers, where they can benefit from monthly payment plans.

We reached out for comment and got the following boilerplate response: “Over the past five years HUAWEI has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the U.S. market. On Tuesday HUAWEI will introduce new products to the U.S. market, including availability. We look forward to sharing more information with you then.”

We’ll bring you more information on HUAWEI’s plans for the U.S. on Tuesday. In the meantime, do you think this canceled deal with AT&T will hurt the company in the long run?

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