Huawei, 5G standards and the US DoC is a pantomime for our times

5G standards
Image credit | Pentium2

News that the US Department of Commerce is happy for US companies to engage with Huawei on 5G standards work is baffling. Mind you, much of the rhetoric that comes out of US departments on the subject of certain Chinese companies is also baffling, to say the least.

Surely it is not as obvious and straightforward as wanting to grab the fruits of the years of work that Huawei has put into 5G. Surely the US Government does not believe that Huawei will thank them for allowing their involvement in 5G standards, let their know-how to be ‘utilised’ and then walk away, unable to do business with them.

On the face of it, it does seem that way.

Secretary of Commerce, Wilber Ross, said he wants national industry to “fully engage and advocate for US technologies to become international standards”, and he “recognises the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security”.

So, thrash out the standards with Huawei but don’t do business with them.

But standards are funny things. They are made by people who turn up, which means they are made by the companies who have the resources to send people to the South of France for weeks at a time to try and make square pegs go into round holes.

The upside is that if you are successful at it, then the resulting standards will look more like your own blueprints than anyone else’s and therefore your production times, costs and efficiencies all reap the benefits.

You have to wonder whether the US has forgotten that 5G is a global technology, with global standards supporting it. It is not as far-fetched as you might think. That once great country has single-handedly put a stop to globalisation, so anything is possible.

Yet, with the input of US companies, Huawei’s 5G efforts will only benefit. Across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, the company will benefit from the knowledge and insights that come from the standards process. They will possibly get more business as a result, not less, some of it from America’s allies, who – at the same time – are being pressured not to do business with the company.

5G standards benefit everyone.

To allow US companies to engage with Huawei on 5G standards but not do business with them, only shoots the US in the (other) foot.


  1. This is not at all surprising. If the US does not participate, then the users of Huawei equipment will forever cease to be prospects for US network vendors, and that loss would constrain US vendors to just 20% of the future market.

    It is not baffling, it is existential.

  2. If you read this newsletter you get the impression that 5G ceases to exist and that the world is doomed without Huawei.
    …a blatant lobbying campaign as I have ever seen one.

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