Visitors browse new Huawei smartphones at the company's booth at CES Asia 2019, in Shanghai on Tuesday. The exhibition features cutting-edge technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. (Photo: AFP)
Huawei will soon help launch commercial 5G service in 15 cities across Spain by teaming up with local carrier Vodafone Spain. While the Chinese technology giant is gaining more territory in the global 5G arena, it has been also actively fighting back against the global crackdown led by Washington from both the legal and product perspectives.
European heavyweight telecom operator Vodafone will launch its 5G network in Spain on Saturday, using Huawei networks and technology, following carriers in the UK that have recently launched 5G service with the help of the Chinese company, which is also the largest telecoms equipment provider across the globe.
Spain will be the second European country with commercial 5G service after the UK.
In spite of constant US efforts in lobbying Europe to bar Huawei from 5G rollouts by citing so-called security concerns, the Chinese company has not stopped moving forward in helping local carriers to accelerate their 5G deployment.
"Huawei is the unparalleled leader in 5G," the Chinese company told the Global Times in an earlier interview, noting that rejecting Huawei will only leave the US lagging behind in the 5G race.
As of June 6, Huawei had obtained 46 5G commercial contracts in 30 countries and regions worldwide, including some allies of the US and European countries that the US has been actively persuading, Geng Shuang, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, said in a recent press briefing. "I won't mention those countries by name, as it will break someone's heart," he said.
The US has been pushing hard for a ban in Europe, as more and more carriers are inclined to choose Huawei products for their 5G networks. An analysis seen by the Global Times showed that major carriers including EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three UK, all purchased radio access networks from the Chinese company.
In addition to its expanded footprints in 5G markets, Huawei has been actively working on proprietary technologies to reduce reliance on US companies in case Washington extends export controls while giving the US a taste of its own medicine, analysts said.
Huawei is reportedly asking US carrier Verizon for $1 billion in patent licensing fees for the use of more than 230 network-related patents. Huawei and Verizon representatives met in New York last week to discuss some of the patents, and these issues are larger than just Verizon, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing Verizon spokesperson Rich Young.
"Given the broader geopolitical context, any issue involving Huawei has implications for our entire industry and also raises national and international concerns," Young was quoted as saying in the report.
"Huawei is trying to prove that the US can't live without the company, as its patents cover the whole industry supply chain from technologies to services," Fu Liang, an independent industry analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Huawei can live without the US market, but it will not sit passively amid this crackdown, and it will continue using the patent issue to fight back, he said.
To prepare for the worst amid the US sanctions, Huawei has also been accelerating internal innovation in core technologies like its operating system (OS) known as HongMeng.
The company will ship smartphones equipped with HongMeng OS in October, with total shipments set to reach 215 to 225 million units in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to an analyst report seen by the Global Times on Thursday.
HongMeng-equipped smartphones' target consumers will initially be in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as emerging markets, the report showed.
The upcoming release of the HongMeng OS is widely seen as a major blow to US sanctions, which led to Google's partial ban on Huawei from its Android OS.