Trump administration gives Huawei another 90 days to work in U.S.

Huawei MWC19
The U.S. Commerce Department extends Huawei's license to do business in the U.S. by another 90 days. (Monica Alleven/FierceWireless)

Despite ongoing security concerns, the Trump administration extended the length of the license that allows Huawei to do business with its U.S. customers.

Using an executive order, President Donald Trump had put a 90-day ban on Huawei's gear back in May, which was set to expire on Monday. Instead, citing the need for smaller telcos to find alternative vendors to Huawei, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted a 90-day extension that allows Huawei to continue doing some business in the U.S.

“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in a statement that announced the extension.

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“It is another 90 days for the U.S. telecom companies,” Ross said, speaking on Fox News, according to a story by the Washington Post. “Some of the rural companies are dependent on Huawei. "So, we’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off. But, no specific licenses are being granted for anything.”

Ross' announcement came on the heels of President Trump saying over the weekend that he hadn't made a decision as of Sunday to grant the extension.

“At this moment, it looks much more like we’re not going to do business,” Trump said, according to the Washington Post.

The extension allows Huawei to continue to buy components from U.S. companies in order to supply its existing customers, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist, according to a story by Reuters. The extension was good news for U.S. chipmakers such as Intel, Qualcomm and Micron Technology, which saw their shares increase in value Monday morning.  

The extension won't have much of an impact for Eastern Oregon Telecom, according to general manager and CEO Joseph Franell.

"While we have not bought any Huawei gear in quite a while, this extension does nothing to resolve the problem," Franell said in an email to FierceTelecom. "Carriers like Eastern Oregon Telecom are looking for clarity, and are not getting it. This just extends the uncertainty."

Questions that remain, according to Franell, include:

• Is all Huawei equipment a problem?

• Does it matter where the Huawei equipment resides in the network?

• Will there be federal financial assistance to forklift and replace if that is the case? If so, when and how much?

• Will there be a reasonable deadline to remove gear from a network if dictated?

• How do we know what gear to buy to replace it with?

• Will there be certainty that the new equipment won't have to be forklifted and replaced?

• How does any of this help make our networks more secure?

RELATED: Huawei founder says Trump's reprieve won't have 'much impact': Financial Times

Citing security concerns, the Trump administration put Huawei on an "Entity List" blacklist on May 20. The U.S. has maintained that Huawei works with the Chinese government by providing backdoor access in its telecom gear for espionage purposes, which Huawei has long denied. Monday's reprieve will last until Nov. 19.

Shortly after announcing the ban, the U.S. Commerce Department announced a temporary license that authorized some transactions between Huawei and its U.S. customers, including rural wireless service providers.

Huawei has contended that it's a pawn in the trade war between China and the U.S. In June, the Trump administration increased tariffs to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese products.

President Trump was looking to impose more tariffs, but said last week he would wait until after the holiday season, which was somewhat of an admission that the tariff's impact U.S. consumers. Negotiations between China and the U.S. are set to resume next month.

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