Huawei license expiration puts network operators, Android phones in limbo

JC Torres - Aug 16, 2020, 7:39pm CDT
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Huawei license expiration puts network operators, Android phones in limbo

They say all good things come to an end and that’s especially true with reprieves. Recent events, both related to the COVID-19 pandemic and TikTok, may have shoved Huawei out of the spotlight but the beleaguered Chinese company has once again come into focus and not in a good way. Huawei’s license extension in the US has expired as of Thursday night and its customers both in the telecommunications and mobile markets are at a loss on how to proceed.

It’s not like the US government has been sounding the warning bells since last year or even before that but its timeline and process for compliance is hardly realistic. It will take more than a year for network operators to completely replace any Huawei equipment they might have, most of them for critical parts of its infrastructure, and the government isn’t exactly throwing them a bone in this regard.

In fact, there was a new law that forces telecoms to replace those pieces of hardware from Huawei and even ZTE due to their national security risk. While that law does require the federal government to give them money first to replace the equipment, none of that has been allocated yet at all. This leaves network operators waiting for that money to arrive while maintaining equipment that can no longer be supported by its manufacturer.

Things are less severe on the smartphone front though not less uncertain. Huawei hasn’t been shipping Google’s proprietary software and services on its new phones launched since the second half of 2019 but it does still have phones in the market that do. The latest is the Huawei P30 Pro “New Edition”, almost a rehash of the 2019 original and these phones may no longer receive any update to Google’s software.

At the moment, however, neither Huawei nor Google have commented yet on the future of the former’s Android phones and they are most likely still trying to make sense of the situation. Huawei could still push out Android updates taken from the publicly available Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code but anything that even remotely touches on Google’s apps is probably out of the question for now.


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