Trade tensions between China and the US continuously escalate. Despite rescue efforts by the Trump administration, the US still doesn’t trust the intentions of Chinese telcos and phone makers.
Previously, the US government had imposed heavy sanctions on Huawei and ZTE over national cybersecurity concerns. Among others, the sanctions prevent both companies from selling their devices freely on American soil.
Between the two, ZTE is suffering the harsher end of punishments. Following a breach of trade agreements, the company is banned from engaging any American company on business. The ban has ceased production of ZTE phones, which rely heavily on American components.
For reasons of his own, President Trump attempted to save the company from extinction, but to no avail. Since then, the issue has seesawed between the two conflicting parties.
Now, the US is temporarily lifting the sanctions to allow the continuation of ZTE’s service. The gesture of goodwill, however, isn’t a rescue mission. The move intends to support the plethora of companies that ZTE has agreements with, prior to the April ban.
Additionally, the temporary reprieve allows ZTE to release vital security updates to their current stock of phones. Put simply, the move supports ZTE’s existing phones, but doesn’t allow the company from making new ones.
The reprieve will expire on August 1. Afterwards, ZTE’s future is at the mercy of US lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the US is making regulatory headway on another front. Similar to ZTE’s case, the government has banned the world’s third biggest telco, China Mobile, from operating on American soil.
According to the US, China Mobile poses significant threats to national security over China’s stakes on the company. Lawmakers decree that companies with more than a 10 percent stake from a foreign country are unnecessary risks for the US. Supposedly, these companies are highly suggestible from their respective country’s influence.
Regardless, the bans underlie the political unrest between the two countries. If you plan on buying Chinese phones, purchase them away from US soil.
Huawei’s phones can’t use microSD cards anymore
Another casualty of the ban
Everyone knows what happened to Huawei. As the week winds down, the Trump ban is dismantling the Chinese company piece by piece. Most notably, Google has stopped its business dealings with Huawei. Soon after, hardware company ARM ceased support for future Huawei chips. Huawei has lost considerable support on both hardware and software sides.
Now, the company has lost another major backer. Reported by Nikkei Asian Review, the SD Association has revoked Huawei’s membership status. As the name suggests, the trade group dictates the SD and microSD standards of the industry. The Chinese company cannot use the standard for future devices anymore. Fortunately, Huawei can still use the memory cards for existing phones.
However, the latest bridge-burning has drastically changed the company’s future. Given everything, Huawei’s future does not include Google, ARM, and microSD extensions, among others. All three components are major parts of today’s phones.
Fortunately, the loss of microSD support isn’t a deadly deal. Huawei can still use other standards for memory card extension. The company also has its own proprietary standard called the Nano Memory Card. Of course, proprietary hardware is almost always a turn-off. Despite cushioning the SD Association loss, the Nano Memory Card isn’t as appealing as the universally available microSD card.
In other news, Huawei has also “temporarily” lost access to the Wi-Fi Alliance. Much like the SD Association, the Wi-Fi Alliance dictates the connectivity standards of devices. Thankfully, Huawei can still use Wi-Fi in its devices. However, the company cannot participate in any discussions to shape Wi-Fi’s future.
Likewise, Huawei has voluntarily withdrawn from JEDEC, a trade group that defines semiconductor standards. As with the Wi-Fi Alliance, the company cannot contribute to any future discussions.
Fortunately, both restrictions don’t impact the company’s future as much. However, Huawei’s future is slowly moving away from industry standards. If the company hopes to survive, Huawei must develop its own proprietary hardware or find replacements elsewhere.
Philippines: Huawei ban ‘will have a little impact’ on the country
States the Philippines’ robust cybersecurity measures
Throughout the past few days, the Huawei debacle has devastated companies and consumers across the globe. Everyone is falling for the fear. Huawei’s long-standing suppliers have cut ties with the company. Huawei’s consumers are getting rid of their favored headsets. The wave has swept the whole world.
Naturally, the Philippines isn’t immune. Recently, smartphone retailers and resellers have started refusing Huawei devices from their stores. Local Huawei users can’t easily sell their devices to the second-hand market anymore.
However, an important question still stands. How much will the Huawei ban affect the Philippines?
Of course, the ban originates from Trump’s trade war against China. Among other reasons, the American government cites the company’s inherent cybersecurity risks as the prime motivator. Supposedly, Huawei’s telecommunications hardware can transmit valuable data to the Chinese government. Given the Philippines’ proximity to China, are we also at risk?
According to the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Huawei’s ban “will have a little impact in the Philippine telecommunications industry.” Shared through a Facebook post, the DICT assures users of the country’s robust cybersecurity measures. As of now, the department has not reported any cybersecurity breaches coming from Huawei equipment.
Likewise, shortly after the news broke, local telcos confirmed continued support for Huawei’s devices. According to the DICT, “they will diversify in their present and future procurements of equipment to make their networks more robust and future proof.” The department is also imposing strict rules on local telcos regarding network monitoring. The statement also quickly adds the imposition of the same rules on a potential third telco.
Is the DICT’s statement believable? For now, Huawei’s impact is still marginal at best. Companies and consumers are going on the perceived risk of the future. Right now, Huawei has not announced drastic changes to its products yet. Existing Huawei products still support Google.
Of course, cybersecurity is another issue. The risk will always exist when foreign companies control the telecommunications equipment of another country. At the very least, the DICT isn’t treating the whole debacle as a non-issue. Hopefully, the department’s promises are an optimistic sign for the country’s telecommunications industry.
Report: Huawei to lose support from ARM, hampering its own chipsets
Things are getting even worse
Despite Huawei’s gradual loss of support from US-based companies such as Google, Intel, and Broadcom, the Chinese manufacturer has faith in its ability to produce its own replacements. However, with the latest development, even that strategy may be facing a potentially catastrophic obstacle.
BBC has reported that chipset designer ARM informed employees to halt all business with Huawei. ARM is a vital resource for most mobile devices, because even though some brands like Samsung and Huawei can produce their own system-on-chip (SoC), the technologies need to be licensed from ARM before production.
Since ARM is based in the UK, this added blacklisting wasn’t seen as a possibility at first. Unfortunately, the company appears to be complying with the US’ trade ban, the reason being that its designs hold “US origin technology.”
Huawei’s semiconductor firm HiSilicon creates the Kirin processors found in the majority of the company’s smartphones and tablets. Most, if not all, require the ARM license. According to the same report, the upcoming Kirin 985 is clear of the ban, but anything after that will most likely have its production halted.
While Google and Huawei were given an additional 90 days to sort these issues out, no such order was given to ARM just yet, saying that the closed communication takes effect immediately. Huawei hasn’t given a statement about this as of writing.
Huawei is said to have enough components and licensing to last several months to a year of production, but that would only be a short-term solution. What lies ahead for Huawei may only get worse as more bad news rolls in.
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