Huawei Will Sell Its 5G Know-How

Huawei's chief executive has proposed selling its current 5G know-how to a Western firm as a way to address security concerns voiced by the US and others about its business. 

Ren Zhengfei (pictured) said the buyer would be free to "change the software code" according to the BBC. That would allow any flaws or supposed backdoors to be addressed without Huawei's involvement. 

The US and Australia have banned their networks from using Huawei's equipment. The UK is still weighing a decision.
Huawei has repeatedly denied claims that it would help the Chinese government spy on or disrupt other countries' telecoms systems, and says it is a private enterprise owned by its workers. 

Huawei’s claim that it is 99% owned by its staff is not reassuring, as they are in fact owned by the trade union committee of Huawei.  Since all trade unions in China are under the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which is under the supervision of the Communist Party

One expert, who has doubted Huawei’s independence, said the idea of it helping another country's business to compete represented an "extraordinary offer".

"Perhaps the explanation is that Huawei recognises that it is unlikely to be able to bypass the efforts the Trump administration is putting into minimising its scope to operate in North America, Western Europe and Australasia," said Prof Steve Tsang from the University of London.

Seeking Balance 
Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei made the proposal in interviews with the Economist and the New York Times.
It would include ongoing access to the firm's existing 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and production engineering knowledge. 

According to the New york Times, Huawei is open to sharing our 5G technologies and techniques with US companies, so that they can build up its own 5G industry, creating a more a balanced situation between China, the US and Europe. A spokesman for Huawei has confirmed the quotes are accurate and the idea represents a "genuine proposal".

At present, Europe's Nokia and Ericsson are the main alternatives to Huawei when it comes to networks selecting what 5G cell tower base stations and other equipment to install. South Korea's Samsung and China's ZTE are other alternatives. 

But while American firms including Cisco, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have developed 5G-related technologies, the US lacks an infrastructure-equipment specialist of its own.

Beyond the licensing fee, Huawei could benefit because it might convince Washington to drop restrictions that currently prevent it buying US-linked technologies for its own use. One consequence of this is that Huawei faces having to launch an Android smartphone later this month that will not offer Google apps. 

A deal would also help ensure Huawei gets its 5G technologies widely adopted.
For instance, 5G supports two different coding techniques for data transmission to help tackle interference. Huawei has developed a technique called "polar codes", which it says will give 5G devices longer battery life than an alternative favoured by many Western firms called "low density parity check". If polar codes are widely adopted, Huawei will earn more patent fees from device-makers that support them.

Intelligence law
Some commentataors have suggested Ren's proposal is doomed to fail. "Huawei misunderstands the underlying problem," Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, from the European Centre for International Political Economy, told the BBC.

"The issue is not the trustworthiness of Huawei as a vendor but the legal obligations that the Chinese government imposes on it.....China's National Intelligence Law requires Chinese businesses and citizens to surrender any data or 'communication tools' they may have access to, under strict punitive sanctions.....Any equipment or software that Huawei licenses to an US entity would still fall under this obligation, and there is no way that the licensing entity or the intelligence agencies could scrutinise millions of lines of code for potential backdoors."

Even if Huawei's offer is ultimately rejected, he explained, it demonstrates that the company is willing to go to remarkable lengths to try and win the trust of its critics.

BBC:         New York Times:

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