Japanese carriers stop selling cell phones



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The controversial Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei must be feeling very lonely now.

National security concerns long held by Western countries, including Australia, coupled with a trade war between Washington and Beijing, have left the growing smartphone and telecommunications company without many friends.

The trade war hit consumers well last week when the Trump government put Huawei on the list, which effectively means that US companies can not sell Huawei's technology without permission from the White House.

As it stands, Huawei – the world's second largest smartphone maker after dethroning Apple – will no longer be able to use Google's Android operating system and the suite of applications that populate smartphones worldwide, including Google Maps and Gmail.

The ban will also hamper the network equipment business, which depends on the technology of US companies, such as computer chips.

In a world with globalized supply chains, this is what experts call armed interdependence.

The impact has caused a flaw in Huawei's global operations as companies in Britain and Japan were forced to suspend cooperation amid uncertainty about their products.

Four large Japanese and British operators said they would postpone the launch of new handsets made by Huawei amid the US-led crackdown.

NO WAY, HUAWEI

Panasonic, Japan said on Thursday that it is halting business with Huawei, joining a growing list of distant companies.

"We have discontinued all commercial transactions with Huawei and its 68 group companies … which are subject to the US government ban," said Panasonic spokesman Joe Flynn.

British mobile operator EE, owned by BT Group, is expected to bring Huawei's first 5G phone to Britain in the coming months, but that now appears to be at stake.

EE Executive Director Marc Allera said the company had "paused" the launch of Huawei's 5G phones "until we have the information, confidence and long-term security our customers … will receive support."

The group also said it would eliminate the use of Huawei equipment in the most sensitive "central" elements of its network infrastructure.

Vodafone soon followed suit, announcing that it was suspending pre-orders for Huawei 5G handsets.

"We are stopping pre-orders for Huawei Mate 20X in the UK. This is a temporary measure as long as there is uncertainty regarding the new Huawei 5G devices, "a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, UK-based ARM, which designs processors used in most mobile devices, is also poised to suspend ties with Huawei.

Company officials were directed to suspend "all active contracts, support rights and any pending commitments" with Huawei, according to internal documents viewed by the BBC.

This is a great deal for Huawei. As Wired Put: "Huawei could survive without Google.Without ARM? Not much."

One analyst described the move, if it turned out in the long run, as an "insurmountable" blow to Huawei's business.

Ban could force Huawei to approach 'flat B' for its smartphones

In Australia, Huawei executives tried to calm the fears of smartphone customers by saying that the ban would only affect future models and those using existing cell phones would still have access to the Google Play Store and other applications.

But there are still questions about getting access to the next version of Google's Android software and may not be able to get important security patches in the future.

Huawei made a huge and concentrated push in the Australian market with its latest flagship P30 Pro, launched earlier this year. But compared to the European and Asian markets, the company's smartphone business is much less well-known in Australia and has only a very small market share.

The Australian telecoms were supposedly surprised by the ban and are taking a wait-and-see approach. Huawei's technology is already banned at the launch of 5G in Australia and telecom companies have not publicly pledged to stock the Huawei devices that will be released later this year.

Japan's second and third largest telecoms broadcasters, KDDI and SoftBank Corp, said the decision to postpone the launch of Huawei handsets was taken to give them time to assess the impact of the White House ban.

The country's largest carrier, NTT Docomo, also announced that it was suspending the pre-orders for a new Huawei device, but stopped stopping the launch itself.

As the world pulls away, Huawei said in response that he recognized "the pressure" placed on its suppliers, and that it was "confident that this unfortunate situation could be resolved."

THREAT DIREDA

Japan's SoftBank is expected to launch a smartphone manufactured by Huawei on Friday but has suspended the launch "because we are currently trying to confirm that our customers will be able to use the device with a sense of security," said company spokesman Hiroyuki Mizukami . .

"We still do not know when we can start selling," he said, adding that the Japanese operator is worried about "everything" linked to the US ban.

Japanese operator KDDI said that the launch of the Huawei P30 Premium planned for May will also be postponed, with spokeswoman Reiko Nakamura saying: "We are checking the facts about how (the US decision) was taken and its impact."

Last week, President Trump declared a "national emergency," enabling him to put blacklisted companies as "an unacceptable risk to US national security" – a measure analysts said was clearly aimed at Huawei.

The US Department of Commerce has also announced an effective ban on US companies selling or transferring US technology to Huawei.

US officials this week, meanwhile, have approved a 90-day ban on handling Huawei, saying breathing space is needed to avoid major disruptions.

Washington has long suspected deep links between Huawei and the Chinese military, and its actions against the company come amid a trade dispute between the two major economies of the world.

The issue has also been a source of heated controversy in Britain since a leak from the country's National Security Council (CSN) last month suggested that the government was planning a limited role for Huawei in its 5G network.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Britain during a visit to London that it was in danger of undermining the intelligence division of historic allies.

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