US MOBILE CARRIER AT&T has allegedly backed out of a deal to flog Huawei phones in the US amid "security concerns."
Huawei was set to announce the partnership this week at CES 2018 before AT&T is said to have pulled out of the deal at the last minute. According to a letter seen by Reuters, politicians scuppered the deal citing security concerns.
The letter sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was due to speak to CES but pulled out following death threats, was signed by 18 members of the US Senate and House intelligence committee who noted concerns about Chinese companies in the US telecoms industry.
The letter notes worries over "Chinese espionage in general, and Huawei's role in that espionage in particular".
Back in 2012, an investigation by the US House of Representatives concluded that Huawei and ZTE posed "threats" to national security because the equipment they provide could be used to spy on the US, despite later finding no evidence that the firms had spied on behalf of China.
"Huawei is a $32bn independent multinational that would not jeopardize its success or the integrity of its customers' networks for any government or third party. Ever," the firm said at the time.
Huawei isn't taking this latest decision lying down, either. During a keynote at CES on Tuesday, the firm's CEO Richard Yu hit out at the US telecoms market over its fallen-through deal with AT&T.
"Everybody knows that in the US market that over 90 per cent of smartphones are sold by carrier channels," he said, according to The Verge. "It's a big loss for us, and also for carriers, but the more big loss is for consumers, because consumers don't have the best choice."
He went on to say that Huawei faced plenty of doubters in its native China too, adding: "We win the trust of the Chinese carriers, we win the trust of the emerging markets... and also we win the trust of the global carriers, all the European and Japanese carriers.
"We are serving over 70 million people worldwide. We've proven our quality, we've proven our privacy and security protection."
Although AT&T has backed out of a deal to sell Huawei phones, the firm will still sell its flagship Mate 10 Pro in the US via the likes of Amazon.
Reports claim that the firm is also looking to form a second deal with Verizon, but a partnership is looking "unlikely", with the carrier also under political pressure to cancel a planned summer launch of the Mate 10 Pro. µ
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