US ‘To Allow Companies To Work With Huawei On 5G Standards’

The US has reportedly drafted regulatory changes that will allow its companies to work with Huawei on 5G standards.

The move comes after previous US restrictions against the Chinese company, which holds a leading position in 5G standards processes, resulted in reduced participation by US companies in standards processes.

The US Commerce Department and other agencies have approved the change and it is awaiting publication in the Federal Register, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.

In May US regulators were reported to be working on the change.

Uncertainty

In May of last year the US placed Huawei on a national security “entity list” that prohibits American companies from supplying goods or service to the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, except with a government-issued licence.

More recently, the US said it intends to change export regulations to cut off Huawei’s access to semiconductors manufactured by overseas companies with US equipment or software.

But those moves made US companies uncertain what technology or information they could share with 5G standards bodies, in which Huawei also participates.

As a result, US technology companies stopped engaging in standards processes, reportedly giving Huawei a stronger voice in some standards bodies.

Standards groups allow companies to develop specifications that allow equipment manufactured by different companies to work together.

The amended rules are intended to help US companies maintain an active role in international standards groups without compromising the US government’s actions against Huawei.

The Commerce Department and Huawei offered no immediate comment.

Patents

A study published last week found that Huawei holds the most patents on 5G technology, followed by Samsung, LG, Nokia, Ericsson and Qualcomm.

Those firms together hold more than 80 percent of 5G patents, with Qualcomm being the only US company in the group, according to the report prepared by GreyB Services and Amplified AI.

The study analysed about 6,400 inventions declared “essential” to 5G standards by their owners that had active patents somewhere in the world as of 31 December, 2019.

The researchers identified 1,658 patents that were “core” to 5G.

‘National security’

The study is an indicator of Huawei’s active role in developing 5G technology and standards.

It is also a reminder that Huawei stands to profit from the deployment of 5G through royalty payments for its intellectual property, regardless of whose equipment is used.

The US has been pressuring its allies to shut Chinese-made equipment out of their 5G networks on national security grounds.

The US ambassador to Brazil said last week that the US is working on financing deals in Brazil and other countries that would see those countries use 5G equipment made by Ericsson and Nokia, rather than Huawei.

Huawei denies it poses a security threat.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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