Qualcomm has confirmed that it has applied for approval from the US to supply chipsets to Huawei. CEO Steven Mollenkopf revealed the development during the company's fiscal 2020 earnings conference call earlier this week.
Months after heaping more restrictions and threatening the survival of Huawei's smartphone business, the United States Department of Commerce seems to have reversed some of its decisions. While the US government still considers the beleaguered Chinese giant a threat to national security, the Department of Commerce has begun permitting companies to resume business with Huawei.
Companies like Intel, TSMC, AMD, Samsung Display, and Sony have all received a special license over the past few weeks. They can now supply parts and components to Huawei as long as the Chinese company isn't utilizing those items in its 5G business.
The same restriction applies to semiconductor chips as well. However, it's still a big relief for Huawei as well as its suppliers. The company still has a strong presence globally and that makes it an important client for its suppliers. On the other hand, this will also help Huawei keep its smartphone business afloat.
Several companies have applied for the special license and those include American chipmaking giant Qualcomm as well. The company, however, is yet to get approval. Samsung and MediaTek are also reportedly waiting for approval from the United States Department of Commerce. Overall, more than 300 companies have applied for the license but only one-third of them has been granted so far.
Qualcomm waiting for US approval to supply chipsets to Huawei
While the US government seems to have gone lenient over its sanctions on Huawei, the Chinese company isn't taking anything for granted. It is already doubling down on becoming self-sufficient and is working on building a chipset fabrication plant in China. This plant will not use any US-origin software or technology.
The company hopes to make the new factory operational by the end of this year. However, it has reportedly only scaled to a 45nm process as of now. Huawei may be able to produce 28nm chips by the end of 2021 and 20nm chips the following year in its US-free plant.
But that's still far from what the needs to keep its smartphone business relative in the market. And this is where chipmakers like Samsung, MediaTek, and Qualcomm could fill the gap. It remains to be seen if any or all of these companies get approval from the US government.