It's been a tough year for Chinese telco giant Huawei after being embroiled in allegations of espionage and fraud as well as the ongoing trade war between China and the United States. But while many Western governments have banned its technology from being used for critical infrastructure within their borders, Huawei is looking at offering a solution that will force countries to overlook any security concerns.
Huawei has confirmed at the 2019 IFA conference in Berlin that although the Mate 30 series will come with Android 10 pre-installed, the devices will not host any Google apps when the phone launches on September 19. Google previously confirmed the app exclusion after months of turmoil amid US President Trump's allegations of Huawei infrastructure being used to spy on citizens, resulting in a ban on US companies (like Google) working with Chinese companies (like Huawei).
Huawei's CEO Ren Zhengfei told The Economist in a recent interview it's considering selling its 5G technology in one-off sales to competitors and, potentially, foreign governments like Australia. Australia banned the use of Huawei's 5G technology in August.
The deal could work for a one-time fee, according to the report, which would give the buyer access to Huawei's "existing 5G patents, licences, codes, technological blueprints and production know-how" while it retains its right to continue producing the technology.
Interestingly, the source codes could be modified as the buying company wishes so none of the security concerns previously raised about Chinese espionage would apply.
"5G represents speed," Zhengfei said to The Economist. "Countries that have speed will move forward rapidly. On the contrary, countries that give up speed and excellent connectivity technology may see economic slowdown."
CC: Australian government.
But, why would Huawei give its competition a silver bullet? Trump's willingness to ban US companies from working with Huawei could be one but Zhengfei pointed to another reason. "A balanced distribution of interests is conducive to Huawei's survival," he said in reference to undoing the anti-Chinese technology sentiment that's arisen in the past few years.
While the competitors and foreign governments aren't specifically mentioned in the report, earlier this year it was suggested Huawei was looking at Apple to share its 5G modems.
"If [Apple] are interested, we're open to it," Richard Yu, a Huawei executive, told Chinese media in April, according to the South China Morning Post.
With the US-China trade war ramping up and bans on US companies working with Huawei persisting, it seems the only logical way forward for the time being.
Gizmodo Australia reached out to Huawei for additional comment but it declined to speak on the matter at this stage.
Today it was announced that Huawei and ZTE will be banned from supplying 5G technology to Australia. This comes after months of discussions and investigation regarding the inclusions of Chinese vendors in 5G networks — including Huawei rejecting the claim that it would be a security risk back in June.