US To Allow Huawei And US Firms To Develop 5G Standards – Report

The United States has responded to concerns that US companies cannot participate in setting global 5G standards, due to the blacklisting of China tech giant Huawei Technologies.

According to Reuters, which cited people with the matter, the US Department of Commerce is close to signing off on a new rule that will allow American companies to work with Huawei on setting 5G standards.

The development comes after the executive order issued by President Donald Trump in mid May 2019, that declared a national security emergency against Chinese firms.

Standard setting

Almost immediately after the President’s executive order, the US Commerce Department added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its so-called Entity List, which banned them from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

That decision made it difficult, if not impossible, for Huawei, to sell some products because of its reliance on US suppliers for essential silicon and other components.

However the US Commerce Department has since then implemented 90-day delays to the imposition of trade restrictions on Huawei, meaning it still can purchase American tech.

But the blacklisting has also caused US firms real problems on the telecommunications side.

After the blacklisting, it seems that engineers in some US tech firms stopped engaging with Huawei to develop standards. This was because the companies were uncertain about what technology and information their employees could share with Huawei, Reuters reported.

Essentially, US firms stopped participating in organisations that establish industry standards, putting the country at a disadvantage.

For example, in meetings to thrash out new standards to allow equipment from different companies to function together smoothly, Huawei gained a stronger voice as US engineers sat back in silence, Reuters reported.

New rules

This has a financial impact, as industry standards are a potential money maker for telecom firms, as they seek to have their patented tech to be considered essential to the standard, which can boost a company’s bottom line.

And now according to Reuters, after nearly a year of uncertainty, the US Commerce department has drafted a new rule to address the issue.

The rule, which could still change, essentially allows US companies to participate in standards bodies where Huawei is also a member, the sources said.

The draft is under final review at the Commerce Department and, if cleared, would go to other agencies for approval, the people said. It is unclear how long the full process will take or if another agency will object.

The Department of Commerce reportedly declined to comment.

Huawei also declined to comment.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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