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Huawei shrugs off threat of US ban

BARCELONA: Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer products division presents the new HUAWEI Mate X foldable smartphone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), on the eve of the world’s biggest mobile fair, yesterday in Barcelona. – AFP

BARCELONA: Huawei’s chairman yesterday shrugged of the risk that President Donald Trump could issue an executive order banning the Chinese telecom giant, saying the company could succeed without the US market. Guo Ping said such an order “is not necessary and should not be released” but if issued would have little impact on Huawei, which has become the leading supplier of the backbone equipment for wireless mobile networks worldwide.

“In 2018 Huawei had revenues of over $100 billion. The share of US in this is really small. That means the US market can be ignored by us,” he told a press conference in Barcelona on the eve of the Mobile World Congress trade fair.

Guo added that such a move would hurt some small telecoms operators in the United States that do use its equipment. US officials suspect Shenzhen-based Huawei’s products could be used by Beijing to spy on Western governments and have already severely restricted the company’s presence in the United States.

Washington considers the matter urgent as countries around the world prepare to roll out fifth-generation or 5G networks that will bring near-instantaneous connectivity, vast data capacity and futuristic technologies such as self-driving cars. The administration has been lobbying allies to block Huawei from building 5G networks and Trump is reportedly mulling an executive order to stop the Chinese firm from selling advanced equipment in the United States.

Huawei strenuously denied its equipment could be used for espionage. “We have never and we are not and we will never allow backdoors in our equipment and we will never allow anyone from any country to do that in our equipment,” Guo said through an interpreter. “Huawei needs to abide by Chinese laws and also by the laws outside China if we operate in those countries. Huawei will never, and dare not, and cannot violate any rules and regulations in the countries where we operate,” he added. The United States did not represent the whole world and Huawei hoped each country would make decisions based on its own interests, Guo said.

Network operators seeking to quickly deploy the new wireless networks are in a bind as Huawei’s 5G equipment is seen as being considerable more advanced than that of its rivals such as Sweden’s Ericsson or Finland’s NOKIA. The company has 180,000 employees in 170 countries and counts 45 of the world’s biggest wireless carriers as customers. Huawei Technologies unveiled a $2,600 folding smartphone yesterday which it said was primed for next generation 5G mobile connections, even as the United States campaigns to bar the Chinese company from such networks over security concerns.

Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor after Samsung, said it had taken the lead on developing phones for 5G – which promise superfast internet speeds for consumers and businesses – because it was also involved in developing the networks. “This phone is not only for today for 5G but also for future 5G. On all the benchmarks you can see the performance, the speed is the fastest for 5G in the world,” said Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group.

Speaking ahead of the mobile industry’s biggest global event, which kicks off today in Barcelona, Yu said the Huawei Mate X will have two back-to-back screens which unfold to become an eight-inch tablet display. Yu said the Mate X would be able to download a 1 gigabyte movie in three seconds but also be priced at 2,299 euros ($2,607) when it goes on sale later this year, setting a new upper limit for consumer smartphones.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd last week unveiled its own folding smartphone, priced at nearly $2,000, in a bid to top the technology of Apple Inc and Chinese rivals and reignite consumer interest amid slumping sales. Huawei, which is also the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is under intense scrutiny in the West over US-led allegations of enabling Chinese state espionage, accusations which the company denies. Huawei’s chairman said yesterday recent comments by US President Donald Trump that the US needed to get ahead in mobile communications through competition rather than seeking to block technology was “clear and correct”.

Foldable screens

Phone makers will focus on foldable screens and the introduction of blazing fast 5G wireless networks at the world’s biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain as they try to reverse a decline in sales of smartphones. Huawei will also be in the spotlight at the four-day Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona as the Chinese telecom giant fights US efforts to persuade its allies not to use the company’s technology to build their 5G networks due to concerns that its gear could facilitate Chinese spying.

The firm is the leading manufacturer of equipment for the fifth-generation cellular networks which operators are starting to install. The technology-known as 5G —  will bring near-instantaneous connectivity for smartphones and devices from automobiles to robots. “This year we are going to see real 5G ready launches happening in different countries and the focus will be on where, when, how and what are the consumer benefits going to be of 5G in 2019,” said Ian Fogg, a mobile industry analyst at OpenSignal, which collects and analyses data from mobile networks.

Huawei and other firms are scheduled to carry out 5G smartphone demos at the fair even though the next generation wireless network will not be widely available for several more years. Samsung, the world’s biggest seller of smartphones, unveiled a handset that folds open to be a tablet on Wednesday in San Francisco, becoming the first major manufacturer to offer the long-awaited feature.

China’s Xiaomi and several other firms are expected to follow Samsung’s lead and present foldable devices of their own in Barcelona although it was not clear if they would be prototypes or commercially available devices such as Samsung’s. – Agencies

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