Following US Export Ban, Mobile Carriers Worldwide Drop Huawei Phones From Lineup

May 22, 2019 Updated: June 4, 2019

In light of the U.S. administration’s export ban on Chinese telecom giant Huawei, mobile carriers around the world have announced that they would discontinue selling Huawei models of smartphones, owing to concerns that the U.S. restrictions would affect the phones’ maintenance.

Meanwhile, UK-based chip designer ARM suspended its business with Huawei, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.

Huawei smartphones use Google’s Android operating system. After the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and its 68 affiliates to its trade blacklist on May 15, Google announced that it would suspend its business with Huawei.  

Losing access to Google’s products means Huawei phones would no longer be able to access many of the U.S. tech giant’s most popular apps, such as Gmail and Google Maps.  

To give current Huawei clients time to adjust to the restrictions, the Commerce Department granted Huawei a temporary exemption for 90 days, allowing them to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei phones.

The Commerce Department said it will evaluate whether to extend the exemptions beyond 90 days.

5G for EE and Vodafone

EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator owned by telecoms firm BT, announced at a press conference on May 22 that Huawei smartphones would be left out of its 5G launch until its post-export-ban future becomes clearer.

In other words, “until we get the information and confidence that gives us the long-term surety that our customers, when they buy those devices [Huawei phones], are going to be supported for the lifetime they’ve got the device with us,” said Marc Allera, CEO of the BT Group’s consumer brands.

EE plans to launch 5G networks in London and five other UK cities beginning May 30. It plans to install 1,500 5G sites by the end of this year.

Without Huawei, EE will instead provide customers with 5G smartphones from Samsung, LG, and OnePlus to choose from.

Another major UK-based mobile carrier, Vodafone, announced on the same day that it would also suspend Huawei’s smartphones from its 5G lineup in the UK, for similar reasons. The carrier plans to roll out 5G in July. It is unclear whether Huawei phones would also be excluded from Vodafone’s other European markets.

SoftBank and KDDI

Japanese telecom firm SoftBank said its low-cost Y! Mobile service would not sell the newly-released Huawei P30 Lite smartphone because it wants “customers to feel safe using our products,” said SoftBank spokesman Hiroyuki Mizukami.

SoftBank had planned to sell Huawei’s new phone beginning May 24.

On the same day, another Japanese telecom firm KDDI Corp announced that it has put the same model on hold and will not sell it until it can be assured that the product is reliable.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier, said it was also considering canceling its pre-orders for Huawei smartphones.

A Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone is seen in a Huawei store in Shanghai on May 22, 2019. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Taiwan, South Korea

Chunghwa Telecom, the largest telecom company in Taiwan, announced on May 22 that it would not purchase any more new Huawei phones because “the future maintenance and repair can’t be guaranteed.”

Taiwan media ETtoday quoted Chi-Mau Sheih, the chairman and CEO, saying that his company will continue selling the existing stock.

FarEasTone, the second-largest Taiwanese carrier, said it will continue to sell the current Huawei phones. But the company did not say whether it would purchase new Huawei phones.

Taiwan Mobile, the third-largest Taiwan mobile operator, said it will suspend selling new models of Huawei phones. The island’s other major carriers, Taiwan Star Telecom and Asia Pacific Telecom, adopted the same stance as FarEasTone.

South Korean carrier KT also said it is considering halting sales of Huawei cell phones and tablets following the U.S. export ban.

Chip Designer ARM

After German chipmaker Infineon Technologies was reported on May 20 to have suspended shipments to Huawei in order to comply with the U.S. ban, UK-based chip designer ARM followed with a similar announcement that it has halted business with Huawei.

BBC reported on May 22 that it obtained ARM’s internal documents, in which the company instructed employees to suspend “all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagements” with Huawei and its affiliates, because ARM’s designs contain “U.S. origin technology.”

Although Huawei said it has contingency plans to replace U.S. technologies, experts have said it would be challenging for the company to continue operations.

This article previously misstated the number of Huawei affiliate companies that are under the U.S. export ban. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

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