AT&T Not Selling Huawei Phones In Near Future
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has reportedly canceled plans to sell smartphones made by Chinese electronics giant Huawei Technologies Co. The company was widely expected to announce that AT&T would partner to sell the device during its presentation at CES, one of the tech industry’s biggest shows. An anticipated deal between Huawei and Verizon is also now in jeopardy.
The agreement with AT&T would have been Huawei’s first partnership with a major U.S. mobile carrier. Huawei has been essentially shut out of the U.S. market. In the U.S., over 90 percent of smartphones are sold by carrier channels.
Huawei is the world’s third largest smartphone brand behind Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. That is impressive, seeing that Huawei was an almost total newcomer to consumer devices six years ago. Huawei is also the world’s biggest maker of telecommunication gear. Huawei’s handsets are available to U.S. customers from online retailers and some physical stores. The company has publicly aspired to be the world’s leading smartphone brand within the next five years.
Reports indicate that the carrier’s decision was driven by political pressure within the U.S. There have been concerns about Huawei’s products aiding Chinese espionage. In 2012, the US House Intelligence discouraged US companies from buying Huawei and ZTE equipment over the concerns. Huawei has denied the allegations. A Huawei spokesman said, “Huawei has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the U.S. market.”
Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer products division, presented the new the Mate 10 Pro for the U.S. market at this year’s CES. Yu said during his presentation that American phone buyers can’t have the best and widest choice of device if Huawei products aren’t available to them. An AT&T spokesman declined to comment on why the company changed its mind. AT&T said in a statement that it has never acknowledged the rumors of a possible Huawei phone offering.