Huawei’s Joy Tan discusses how Huawei ban, potential rip-and-replace will impact American workers and businesses
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From banning the technology giant from selling to the U.S. government and blocking domestic carrier sales to cutting off access to American-made components and considering a rip-and-replace of already installed network equipment, Huawei’s U.S. operations are currently facing significant headwinds. But, in addition to potentially hurting Huawei, this complex geopolitical entanglement could also harm American workers and businesses, according to company Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Joy Tan.
In a recent interview with RCR Wireless News conducted at Huawei USA’s headquarters in Plano, Texas, Tan said Huawei spends around $11 billion each year procuring goods and services from American companies reaching some 50,000 workers and their families.
Internally, Huawei’s U.S.-based research and development subsidiary Futurewei laid off 600 employees and halted plans to invest $600 million this year into R&D activities. “That’s the last thing we wanted to see happen,” Tan told RCR Wireless News. “The government’s action forced us put those plans on hold. Washington’s actions are actually hurting U.S. businesses. Many companies along the value chain will be impacted directly or indirectly. We will start seeing the ripple effect very soon if the situation continues.”
While Huawei isn’t engaged with any Tier 1 U.S. operators, the company supplies network equipment for a number of rural and regional carriers that serve far flung parts of the country where service providers like Verizon and AT&T don’t have coverage. The U.S. Senate is considering an action that would provide funding to rip-and-replace that gear, which Tan said could take up to seven years and cost more than $1 billion.
“Washington’s actions will hurt U.S. rural operators and the hard-working Americans who rely on those rural operators. If you’re out in Montana or East Oregon, if you want to make a 911 call, the only reason the call goes through is because of Huawei’s equipment. Schools, hospitals, farms, small businesses, they all rely on Huawei for connectivity.”
Huawei has tallied more than 50 5G contract wins with operators around the world, including in key geographies across Western Europe like Switzerland where it’s supplying end-to-end kit for service provider Sunrise. While U.S. concerns, ostensibly predicated on cybersecurity and Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government, Huawei-led cybersecurity test and validation efforts helped contribute to the company’s more than 23% year-over-year revenue growth in the first half of 2019.
“There is certainly technology competition as well as geopolitics,” she said. “Some U.S. politicians want to use Huawei as a proxy of China, a target to attack to advance their political interests. But Huawei does not want to be a bargaining chip...We hope, over time, we can set the record straight and people can understand Huawei is just a simple and honest company that wants to connect the world.”