EE pauses Huawei 5G phone launches


USA companies that supply the Chinese tech powerhouse with computer chips face a drop in sales, and Huawei's smartphone sales could get decimated with the anticipated loss of Google's popular software and services.

Industry experts have questioned Huawei's claims minimising the impact of moves that make it hard for the company to do business with American firms.

United States president Donald Trump signed an executive order on May 16 barring USA companies from doing business with firms deemed a risk to national security.

The companies said they are holding off amid uncertainty about devices from the world's No. 2 smartphone maker.

Following the announcement of the United States ban, the risks for Huawei came into focus when Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world's smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.

EE confirmed today (May 22) it will launch 5G on May 30 with a portfolio of 5G smartphones.

Its move came a day after British chip designer ARM said it had halted relations with Huawei to comply with the US supply blockade, potentially crippling the Chinese firm's ability to make new chips for smartphones.

Not only is EE dropping Huawei phones from its 5G launch, but BT is also in the process of removing Huawei technology from portions of its 4G network.

Retailer Carphone Warehouse has also said it will not allow customers to pre-order Huawei's 5G handsets.

Arm, which is also owned by Softbank and designs mobile microprocessors that power most of the world's smartphones and tablets, said it "is complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the USA government".

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UK-based chip designer ARM told staff it must suspend business with Huawei, according to internal documents obtained by the BBC.

Huawei said Wednesday that it recognised "the pressure" placed on its suppliers, and that it was "confident this regrettable situation can be resolved".

An Arm spokesman said some of the company's intellectual property is designed in the United States and is therefore "subject to U.S. export controls".

SoftBank spokesman Hiroyuki Mizukami said the company wants its "customers to feel safe using our products".

Trump's order effectively bans USA companies from selling Huawei and affiliates the critical components that have helped it grow into the world's largest supplier of telecom networking equipment and second-biggest smartphone maker.

USA officials this week, however, issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban on dealing with Huawei, saying breathing space is needed to avoid huge disruption.

Vodafone appears to have gotten cold feet over Huawei's Google ban, which has been dominating the news this week.

Analysts say the restrictions could be seriously damaging for the Chinese firm, with the pullback by Google and ARM likely to be "particularly troubling" for the telecoms giant.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told Chinese financial magazine Caixin on Thursday that he did not see ARM's decision to suspend business with Huawei as having an impact on the company.

Earlier this month, the United States reignited its trade war with China by hiking tariffs, just as both sides seemed to be nearing a deal.