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Trump tipped to ban Chinese telecom equipment ahead of MWC

It looks like HUAWEI and ZTE could be in for an awkward MWC...

Published onFebruary 8, 2019

The HUAWEI logo.

An executive order banning U.S. networks from using HUAWEI and ZTE equipment has been rumored for several months now. But it seems like the White House is expected to put pen to paper before Mobile World Congress (MWC) later this month.

According to Politico, citing three sources, President Donald Trump will sign the executive order before the major conference in Barcelona. The order will ban Chinese telecommunications equipment from being used by U.S. carriers.

An industry source said there was a “big push” to get the order signed before MWC. The White House is said to be doing so in order to send a message that new contracts should prioritize cyber-security.

“Contracts are going out now,” a source close to the administration told Politico. “Extra stigma could change the situation out in the countries on this major decision.”

It’s believed HUAWEI and ZTE aren’t specifically named in the executive order, but the companies would obviously fall under the category of Chinese telecom equipment providers.

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News of the supposedly imminent order caps off a tumultuous period in the U.S. for HUAWEI in particular. The company made headlines after CFO Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Canada (at the behest of the U.S.) for allegedly trying to circumvent a trade embargo with Iran. More recently, the U.S. filed indictments against HUAWEI for the Iranian matter, while also claiming the company tried to steal T-Mobile’s trade secrets.

The transition to 5G has also put HUAWEI’s infrastructure business in the cross-hairs of other countries, as Australia banned it from supplying 5G equipment to local carriers. The European Commission is reportedly mulling an equipment ban as well, purportedly due to security concerns. Germany has ruled out a ban, according to Bloomberg, but suggested more stringent security standards for all potential equipment providers.

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