Huawei Denies Holding 5G Licensing Talks
Huawei boss Ren Zhengfei has denied the company is in negotiations with any US firms over licensing its 5G technology.
With Huawei blacklisted by the US government, and with several other governments banning it from supplying, Ren has said Huawei is prepared to license its technology to a foreign supplier.
But he told an event in Shenzhen today that reports that the company was already in talks with US firms over licensing weren't quite correct.
Huawei has been approached by intermediaries offering to represent potential US partners, but had yet to hold any direct discussions, according to Ren.
Another thing holding back talks: The entity list forbids any contact between Huawei and US firms.
Most likely, any US company with an eye on Huawei tech would have to apply for a waiver from the Commerce Department before any talks could take place.
Ren unveiled his surprise strategy in an interview with The Economist in September, saying the Chinese firm would charge a one-time fee for access to its "5G patents, licenses, code, technical blueprints and production know-how."
He has since elaborated that the offer is for just a single US-based vendor.
Ren insists he would be happy to create a strong competitor because it would keep Huawei employees on their toes and "make the world a better one." Additionally, it would be a handy source of licensing revenues.
But another part of Ren's calculation may be that Huawei's carrier business will likely become a smaller part of the company's future.
That's not the official company line, which is that it remains committed to serving telecom operators. But that core business unit is being overshadowed by Huawei's other lines of business.
Last year for the first time it was not the biggest source of revenue. The devices group accounted for 48% of total sales and the carrier unit just 41%.
Besides those two divisions, Huawei has a fast-growing enterprise unit through which it also sells AI-based solutions.
Ren himself has said AI is more important than 5G and will become the world's biggest industry. The company has been investing heavily in AI, recently unveiling a powerful new chip and new development framework. Huawei's AI-driven face-recognition system is widely deployed in China but has also stirred concern abroad.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading