Things are going from bad to worse for Huawei. In the wake of the US Government executive order that restricts US companies from doing business with the Chinese tech company, the repercussions are mounting. Huawei and Honor phones could lose Google services and access to future Android updates and HiSilicon's Kirin chips are also under threat. Now, two major UK carriers have dropped Huawei from their 5G launch plans.
BT-owned network EE was the first to announce that it would be pulling Huawei phones from its 5G selection, with the service to be turned on in 16 UK cities this year, starting May 30. Google's enforced decision that could see Huawei devices lose access to the Play Store and Android version updates is the key factor, with an EE spokesperson releasing the following statement:
“We’ve put the Huawei devices on pause, until we have more information. Until we have the information and confidence that ensures our customers will get support for the lifetime of their devices with us then we’ve got the Huawei devices on pause.”
In a further blow, Vodafone has followed suit and will also not sell the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G when its new network goes online on July 3. The UK's third largest mobile operator has said only that the device “is yet to receive the necessary certifications,” but it's likely similar pressures faced by EE were also behind the decision.
This is the first time we've really seen Huawei's recent political problems in the US spilling over into other regions. It was in a very strong position in the UK and the rest of Europe where it was expected to stand beside Samsung as the key 5G phone provider. If other mobile networks across Europe take similar decisions, Huawei's predicament will be even more precarious.
Further statement from EE
We reached out to EE and have been given the following statement:
“We’re currently holding back our launch of the new Huawei 5G smartphones coming to market. We’re working with Huawei and Google to make sure we can carry out the right level of testing and quality assurance so our customers have a great experience with any smartphones we range in the future. We’ll provide updates on any future smartphones in due course.”
Official statement from Vodafone
And we also have word from Vodafone with an official statement on the matter:
“We are pausing pre-orders for the Huawei Mate 20X (5G) in the UK. This is a temporary measure while uncertainty exists regarding new Huawei 5G devices. We will keep this situation under review.”
There's nothing particularly juicy in either statement, so it's a case of 'watch this space' while I'm sure much negotiating is going on in the background.