Qualcomm may be a direct competitor to Huawei in chipsets but its chief has also now spoken out to say that some cooperation is needed on 5G.
The statement was reported out of Huawei's home country and not only calls for cooperation. It is also entirely contrary to the US administration's decision to place Huawei and 68 of its non-U.S. affiliates on a watch list since earlier this year — a move that's caused significant harm to the company.
According to Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, speaking in an interview, cooperation is vital. If Huawei and Qualcomm aren't cooperating, international 5G standards will effectively be nonexistent, the executive says.
And cooperation has continued between Qualcomm and Huawei on 5G
Qualcomm's chief executive went on to explain that not only is lack of cooperation bad for both Huawei and Qualcomm. Mr. Mollenkopf says that such separation simply won't happen. The company has continued to work with Huawei on the technology and plans to carry on doing so for as long as needed.
That coordination between the two companies is likely a significant part of Qualcomm's latest releases around 5G. Namely, that's the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765, respectively. The two chipsets are expected to drastically drive forward mobile performance too. One example provided by Qualcomm is that the former chip may be able to deliver PC-like graphics to mobile.
All of that development appears to be in spite of an ongoing and often confusing state of existence for Huawei in the US, where Qualcomm is headquartered. As noted above, the company and affiliates were placed on a watch list earlier in 2019 called the Entity List. That has effectively prevented US companies from participating with Huawei without special licensing.
The move is widely regarded as part of an ongoing trade war between the East and West, with claims circulating that Huawei will spy for the Chinese authorities.
As a result of the listing, Huawei has subsequently been forced to work its own employees much harder. In some cases, that's caused a reasonable degree of blowback, as the company searches to eliminate dependence on overseas providers and partners.
In the meantime, several companies in US-allied nations have followed suit, making matters worse for the company. That rollercoaster of support and suspicion has carried over particularly strongly where 5G networking equipment is concerned. Huawei may be a world leader in networking technology but because of concerns about spying, it has had difficulty getting into and then holding its position in any number of global regions.
Implications for the overall 5G market rollout
The situation with Huawei on 5G has additional implications too, extending beyond Qualcomm. While the threat of no global standards could harm a wide array of markets, the continued battle may be harmful to the US itself.
According to Mr. Mollenkopf, the US still leads in terms of 5G technology. But that has to be weighed against the fact that China is "really very fast" at deploying 5G. The country's companies are also quicker at building base stations. The implication is that Qualcomm and Huawei working together on 5G won't only serve to standardize things. It will also allow a much faster rollout worldwide.