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Huawei, U.S. square off in Barcelona

Huawei and U.S. officials brought their battle to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday (February 26), and neither side was pulling its punches. Julian Satterthwaite reports.

BARCELONA, SPAIN (REUTERS / MOBILE WORLD LIVE) –

CHAIRMAN GUO PING, SAYING:

“We don’t do anything bad. We don’t do bad things.”

The Huawei chairman got straight to the point at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday (February 25).

But so did the biggest ever U.S. delegation to the industry event.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT’S DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CYBER AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS POLICY, ROBERT L. STRAYER,

“We know that Huawei itself has been duplicitous and deceitful. They’re under indictment at the highest levels of their company in the United States.”

The U.S. already bans Huawei from building the next generation 5G mobile networks.

Washington says the company colludes with Chinese spies.

Now it wants European backup.

But the U.S. delegation might go home disappointed.

The EU commissioner for the digital economy was in Barcelona too.

She called for a ‘fact based assessment’ of the risk.

That echoed comments from the phone industry association and European operators.

They say there isn’t enough evidence to decide on a ban:

MATS GRANRYD, GSMA DIRECTOR GENERAL,

“Whatever we do, it must be fact based. In this very fluid and complicated situation, without really knowing what you’re talking about it can become really, really dangerous.”

But phone operators are worried.

Building the new 5G networks is massively costly.

Excluding Huawei gear wouldn’t help.

MARC ALLERA, CEO, BT CONSUMER,

“If were to swap like-for-like kit out, then we would be investing more time and money in swapping like-for-like kit rather than rolling out network services like 5G.”

REPORTER ASKING:

“So there could be a delay as well as an extra cost?”

MARC ALLERA, CEO, BT CONSUMER,

“I think that’s a possibility.”

Even so, Vodafone for one has already decided to play safe.

It’s pausing investment in Huawei 5G equipment until the outlook is clearer.

In all the confusion the only winners may be the Chinese firm’s big rivals.

Nokia and Ericsson face one less competitor for big contracts.

As for Huawei, it would just like people to focus on its new folding phone instead.


Associated Links

  • Ericsson
  • Nokia
  • Huawei Tech
  • Vodafone Group
  • Telecommunications
  • Mobile phones
  • Huawei
  • Satterthwaite
  • Touchscreen mobile phones
  • Smartphones

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