Huawei says 5G gear supply ‘not affected’ by US ban, secured 50 contracts

By Wei Sheng
2 min read
Ken Hu, deputy chairman of Huawei, spoke at MWC Shanghai on June 26, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Eugene Tang)
Ken Hu, deputy chairman of Huawei, spoke at MWC Shanghai on June 26, 2019. (Image credit: TechNode/Eugene Tang)

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei said on Wednesday that is has secured 50 commercial 5G contracts worldwide and the company’s 5G equipment supply was “not affected“ by a trade ban by the United States government.

To an audience at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, Huawei deputy chairman and rotating CEO Ken Hu said the company had signed 50 contracts for next-generation 5G wireless networks with telecom operators from 30 countries, half of which are European carriers.

The Shenzhen-based company is the world’s largest telecom equipment maker, but its ambitions to sell 5G gear to global carriers have been crimped by a US government ban on fears of national security risk. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The US Department of Commerce on May 15 placed Huawei on a trade blacklist that bars companies from selling American technology and components to Huawei without approval.

Hu told reporters at a press conference after the presentation that Huawei has already found alternatives, including the company’s self-developed solutions or those from non-American suppliers, for components affected by the US ban.

“In terms of where Huawei stands right now, our overall supply is not affected,” he said.

Huawei also said it has shipped more than 150,000 5G base stations to date and expects to ship 500,000 by the end of the year.

While the company’s 5G business has proved resilient, its consumer business has undoubtedly been affected by the US crackdown. Google on May 19 pulled Huawei’s license for Android, a mobile operating system used by all of Huawei’s smartphones.

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said last week that its overseas smartphone sales had dropped 40% without specifying a time frame. A company spokesman said he was referring to a decline over the past month, according to Bloomberg.

Hu said all Huawei smartphones in stock up to now had the Android OS installed and were not subject to Google’s restriction.

The company is also reportedly preparing an alternate operating system to Android, known as the Hongmeng OS. Hu said he could not provide further information about the developing OS and there was no timetable for launch.

Huawei’s consumer business head Richard Yu, however, said last month in an interview with CNBC that the new system would be ready for use in China by fall this year, and international markets early next year.

Hu said the company “hopes to continue using Android and Google’s services in the future.”