AT&T Going South of the Border With Huawei?

AT&T is reportedly using Huawei equipment in a 4G upgrade for its recently acquired networks in Mexico.

AT&T's Ralph de la Vega told Global Telecoms Business that the performance of the Chinese vendor's gear is "excellent." One of the carriers that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) bought -- Nextel Mexico -- was already using Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as its network provider. In fact, the operator got a $375 million loan from the China Development Bank (CDB) to acquire Huawei 3G infrastructure in July 2011.

Using Huawei equipment in Mexico makes good sense for AT&T as it wants to cover 100 million potential users in the country by 2018. Huawei has traditionally offered more inexpensive wireless networking equipment than its rivals. (See AT&T Commits $3B More to Mexico.)

The operator spent $4.4 billion in total on acquiring lusacell and Nextel Mexico. It intends to spend $3 billion on upgrading those carrier networks in Mexico. (See AT&T Names Iusacell CEO, Closes Acquisition and Infinera Reports 'Exceptional Year' Earnings.)

Light Reading has approached AT&T for more information about the Huawei equipment it is using in Mexico. This story will be updated as and when the operator responds.

At the moment, AT&T probably wouldn't consider using Huawei gear north of the Mexican border. The operator is the second-largest wireless supplier to the US government, and Huawei was deemed a security risk by by the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in October 2012. The committee recommended that Huawei's equipment not be used by network providers, especially if government contracts or contractors are involved. (See Surprise! Sprint Still Has Huawei in Its Network.)

As Light Reading recently reported, in the US, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) still has Huawei basestations in its old Clearwire network. Sprint, however, has far less government business than AT&T to worry about.

Still, Mexico should provide AT&T with a good testing ground if it ever decides it is able to use Huawei's equipment in the US. (See Curing America's China Syndrome .)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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danielcawrey 3/3/2016 | 12:45:08 PM
Re: Mexico, yes. US, no Even though Huawei is considered a security risk in the US, operators are going to use it in other countries. The reason why I think this is because Huawei does offer competitive pricing when compared to other network providers like Cisco. 
romaroma 3/2/2016 | 11:17:06 PM
Re: Support Contracts Huawei banned on all carrier business in US not only wireless.
mendyk 3/2/2016 | 10:43:34 AM
Re: Support Contracts To romaroma's point, the blacklisting by Huawei by the US government did come about at least in part through the lobbying channel. And even though there aren't any US-based suppliers of consequence at this point, it would be more than surprising to see the restrictions eased for the foreseeable future, given the current political environment.
TV Monitor 3/2/2016 | 10:29:23 AM
Re: Support Contracts romaroma

"Huawei is out of US market only because of US vendors lobby in government"

There are no US LTE basestation vendors left to lobby. All LTE basestation vendors in US markets, Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung, are foreign vendors with the US government security clearance.
romaroma 3/2/2016 | 2:01:33 AM
Re: Support Contracts Huawei is a leader on wireless market, and it is strange to hear about the price level as a main factor to buy it. Vice versa  Huawei is no more cheap as it was even 2-3 years ago, now we can see both Huawei and E/// as an equal competitors it terms of innovations and financial instruments to be used. and the fact that Huawei is out of US market only because of US vendors lobby in government, as soon as it will be canceled you will feel the power of that chinese company as we see it in EU.  
DanJones 3/1/2016 | 4:36:30 PM
Re: Support Contracts Huawei is at least as on track as any other major LTE vendor, their 4.5G gear is based off Release 13, which gets "baked" this month.
TV Monitor 3/1/2016 | 3:58:30 PM
Re: Support Contracts Huawai is up-to-date on LTE stuff just like any other LTE vendor. It is the politics and the fear of Chinese intelligence agency having backdoor access to Huawai/ZTE equipment and phone that's blocking its adoption.

While the British examination of Huawei equipment source code revealed that Huawei equipment didn't contain malware, they had flaws that enabled hackers to install malwares on them afterward. On the other hand, all Chinese brand phones including Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, and Xiaomi do carry backdoors as required by Chinese laws and regulations out of box, so don't buy Chinese brand phones. Calling Chinese phone vendors evil won't change anything because it's the Chinese law and Chinese vendors must comply.
nashafi949 3/1/2016 | 3:15:55 PM
Support Contracts Selling cheap equipment is just not enough.  A vendor has to to be a reliable roadmap partner to be able to provide necessary support in terms of maintenance and future customizations of existing products.

TV Monitor 3/1/2016 | 2:31:10 PM
Re: Mexico, yes. US, no sowen557

Well, try to explain vendor financing to the US regulators and the congress. Sounds like a bribery by Chinese state-owned bank.
sowen557 3/1/2016 | 12:30:18 PM
Re: Mexico, yes. US, no AT&T would love the vendor finance Huawei does. 

"In fact, the operator got a $375 million loan from the China Development Bank (CDB) to acquire Huawei 3G infrastructure in July 2011."
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