The US commerce department on Monday granted a 90-day relief for certain US broadband companies and wireless customers using Huawei Technologies equipment.
The temporary licence covers continued operation of existing networks and equipment as well as support to existing handsets and other limited actions, according to a notice published in the Federal Register on Monday.
“This licence will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks,” commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said in an e-mailed statement.
The Trump administration blacklisted Huawei on Friday, jeopardising its supply of American components from semiconductors to the Google apps that run on its smartphones. For Huawei phone users, the temporary reprieve means Google will be able to provide key Android security updates during the 90-day time frame, but future Huawei phones will still lack Google’s apps.
Ross said last week on Bloomberg Television that the administration had a plan in place to deal with rural providers that use the Chinese company’s equipment in existing 4G networks.
The move comes after the Trump administration placed the Chinese telecoms giant on an export blacklist that requires American companies to apply for a special licence to sell products to the world’s largest networking gear maker. The impact of the Trump administration’s threats to choke Huawei reverberated across the global supply chain on Monday, hitting some of the biggest component makers.
Cheap and reliable
Small carriers, the main US users of Huawei gear, had worried the ban could keep them from even routine practices such as ordering replacement parts or exchanging information in order to update software.
The equipment is typically cheap and reliable, winning fans among rural providers. The largest US carriers don’t use Huawei gear, which government officials say could be used for espionage — an allegation the company denies.
The temporary licence is effective for three months, until 19 August.
Kevin Wolf, former head of the commerce department’s export controls section, said the temporary relief is not an indication that the Trump administration was backing off its ban on the company.
“It is a limited authorisation to prevent Internet and telecoms systems from crashing. It is not a general relief from the impact of the listing,” he said.
Such a temporary licence has been granted only once before, for Huawei rival ZTE, last year, Wolf added. — Reported by Jenny Leonard, with assistance from Todd Shields and Mark Bergen, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP