The U.S. Department of Commerce is about to sign off on a new regulation that would require U.S. companies to partner with China’s Huawei Technology to set standards for next-generation 5 G networks, said people familiar with the matter.
Engineers at several U.S. technology companies stopped working with Huawei to develop standards after the company was blacklisted last year by the Commerce Department.
The listing left businesses uncertain about what technologies and knowledge their workers could share with Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications equipment.
This has hurt the United States, said, business executives and government officials. Huawei gained a stronger voice in standards-setting meetings, where protocols and technical requirements are established that allow equipment from different companies to work seamlessly together, as U.S. engineers sat back in silence.
Last May, the Department of Commerce placed Huawei on their “name list,” citing national security concerns.
The listing limited the company’s sales of U.S. products and services and raised concerns about how U.S. companies could be active in organizations that set industry standards.
The department has drafted a new regulation to deal with the problem after nearly a year of confusion.
The law, which may still adjust, essentially requires U.S. companies to participate in standards bodies where Huawei is also a member, the sources said.
The draft is under final examination at the Department of Commerce, and will go to other agencies for approval if approved, the people said. It’s not clear how long the whole process will take, or whether any entity will object.
As we hit the year mark, the time has come to discuss and explain this,” said Naomi Wilson, senior Asia policy director at the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), representing organizations like Amazon.co Inc, Qualcomm Inc, and Intel Corp.
The U.S. government is keen to keep U.S. companies competitive with Huawei, Wilson said. “But their policies unwittingly led to U.S. companies losing their seat at the table to Huawei and others on the list of organizations.”
The regulation is only supposed to tackle Huawei, not other specified entities such as the Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision, said the people familiar with the matter.
The Commerce Department cited U.S. charges pending against the company in adding Huawei to the list last May, for suspected violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran. It also noted that the indictment alleged that Huawei had committed “deceptive and obstructive actions” to circumvent U.S. legislation. Huawei did not plead guilty in the trial.
A spokesperson for the trade department declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Huawei also declined to comment.
“I know that trade is working on that law,” a senior official in the State Department “We support the attempt to find a solution to this issue.”
The White House and Defense, Energy, and Treasury departments did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
International setting of standards is essential to 5 G growth,” said another senior official in the administration, who also did not want to be named. “The discussions are about matching the concern with the national security needs of America.”
Six U.S. senators, including China hawks Marco Rubio, James Inhofe, and Tom Cotton, sent a letter last month to the U.S. Secretaries of Commerce, State, Defense and Energy on the urgent need to issue rules stating that U.S. involvement in the setting of 5 G standards is not limited by the naming of organizations.
“As a result of this decreased involvement, we are extremely worried about the threats to America’s global leadership role in 5 G wireless technology,” the letter said.
5 G or fifth-generation wireless networks in the telecommunications industry are expected to drive anything from high-speed video transfers to the self-driving car industry standards are also a major business for telecommunications companies.
We are struggling with making their proprietary inventions deemed key to the norm, which can raise trillions of dollars in the bottom line of a company.
Wilson of the ITIC said the confusion prompted the U.S .- base standards bodies to consider moving abroad, noting that a few months ago the charitable RISC-V Foundation (pronounced risk-five) planned to relocate from Delaware to Switzerland.
The foundation oversees promising semi-conductor technology developed with funding from the Pentagon and, aims to ensure that others outside the U.S. will further improve its open source technology.
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