The United States government and Huawei have not seen eye-to-eye for many years, but at CES, a top Huawei executive said he believes the company’s prospects of forging a working relationship with the US could be in the works thanks to several factors. Back in 2012, a US government report specifically included Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE as security threats. The reports cited that equipment from either of these companies could be used as a backdoor for Chinese espionage. Huawei vehemently denied the accusations, but they have, for the most part, been locked out of contracts with US telecom operators.
The US allegations have not stopped other countries around the world from using Huawei for their infrastructure equipment needs. Major wireless companies in Europe, Latin America and even Canada are customers of Huawei equipment. Huawei and Ericsson remain the leading world suppliers of telecommunications networking gear despite the US government’s report. Huawei’s William Plummer, VP of the company’s external affairs for the US market says that changing views on network security and market consolidation are “eclipsing geographical, border-based solutions…[and] there’s [now] a much clearer understanding of how networks work.” Hacking by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, continued hacks by others and network security issues have taken the focus away from China and Huawei equipment suppliers and refocused it on how to make networks more secure from hackers – not the equipment that runs the network.
Plummer pointed out that recent sales of network infrastructures in Oregon and Washington state shows some progress in the US. This past fall, PocketiNet Communications chose Huawei for their Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) in Walla Walla in Washington State. In May, Eastern Oregon Telecom hooked up with Huawei to bring gigabit broadband to rural customers in Hermiston, Oregon. Plummer said, “We’re focused on those areas that are underserved or unconnected.” He also gives credit to the merger between Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson and Cisco helping to create more opportunities for Huawei. The competition that is going on between the US carriers, especially Verizon and AT&T, are forcing them to look for more competitive pricing and the best products on the market and this could very well point them toward Huawei. The Huawei name also got a huge boost in 2015 when Google chose them to build the popular Nexus 6P smartphone – as consumers get more comfortable with the Huawei name, companies may also turn to them for more equipment needs.