Huawei Turns Attention to Europe and Asia As D.C. Roadblocks Increase

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Huawei appears to be scaling back its efforts to crack the U.S. market, after meeting regulatory roadblocks in Washington. The company laid off five American employees last week, including its most visible face in the nation’s capital, William Plummer. Huawei is also reducing its lobbying efforts here, after nearly a decade of trying to dispel Congress’ accusations the company works with the Chinese government and could use its telecom equipment to spy on Americans or to destabilize telecom networks, sources told the New York Times. The company repeatedly denied the claims.

Its actions come as the FCC voted Tuesday, to begin a rulemaking to block telecoms that receive Universal Service Fund support, from using services or equipment from companies deemed to be a threat to national security, Inside Towers reported. The proposal does not name any company specifically, however its effect would essentially end Huawei’s small market share in the U.S.

At an event in Shenzhen, China on Tuesday, Huawei stressed its commitment to existing markets and current customers. Executives emphasized growth opportunities in Europe and Asia, according to the Times. They described the company’s vision to expand beyond providing telecom gear and expand into artificial intelligence, the internet of things and other next-gen technologies.  

Major carriers like Verizon and AT&T have steered clear of using Huawei wireless equipment since Congress first began warning about the company in 2012. But some smaller U.S. carriers are attracted by Huawei’s less expensive prices, according to the Rural Wireless Association.  

The RWA told the FCC before its vote, instead of targeting specific manufacturers with “a costly and ultimately ineffective ‘country of origin’ prohibitory regime,” it should create a system for testing telecom gear for security vulnerabilities, Inside Towers reported. “These companies who are reliant on this support, they don’t have the funds to overhaul their whole network,” RWA General Counsel Carri Bennet told the Times. “Public safety, getting 911 services, broadband — it all just starts falling apart.”

April 19, 2018         

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