HUAWEI LOOKS TO BE COOKING UP an extreme plan to ease US concerns regarding the security of its 5G equipment.
In an interview with The Economist, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfen said the firm would be willing to auction-off its "existing 5G patents, licences, codes, technological blueprints and production know-how" to a buyer in the West for a one-off fee, while it retains the right to continue producing the technology.
The buyer would be free to change elements of the source code for their own individual products, so none of the security concerns previously raised about Chinese espionage would apply.
According to Ren, such a move would help level the playing field at a time when many in the West are wary at the prospect of a Chinese company supplying the gear for their 5G networks; the Australian gov, for example, has banned Huawei from providing equipment for its 5G infrastructure.
"A balanced distribution of interests is conducive to Huawei's survival," he said
It's unclear who would be willing to make such a deal, and though Huawei has previously said it'd be open to flogging its 5G modem chips to Apple, Ren said he had "no idea" who might be interested in buying, nor did he put a figure on how much Huawei's 5G "stack" might be worth. The Economist speculates it could reach into the tens of billions of dollars given the amount of money Huawei has poured into 5G research.
"5G represents speed," Ren added. "Countries that have speed will move forward rapidly. On the contrary, countries that give up speed and excellent connectivity technology may see an economic slowdown."
While Huawei is having a rough time in the US, which has placed it on a so-called "Entity List" that effectively it from doing business with American companies, Blighty is yet to make up its mind.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright told the House of Commons last month that the UK gov is "not yet in a position to decide what involvement Huawei should have in the provision of the UK's 5G network," despite the fact that all four telcos in Blighty have already begun building networks based on the Chinese firm's hardware. µ
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