Home Mobility AT&T backs out of deal with Huawei: report

AT&T backs out of deal with Huawei: report

American telecommunications giant AT&T has reportedly backed out of a deal to offer Huawei smartphones on its plans.

The Wall Street Journal cited "people familiar with the matter" in a report where it said Huawei had been expected to announce the deal at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Had the deal been announced, it would have been Huawei's first with a major US mobile vendor. Though it is the third-ranked mobile brand globally — behind Samsung and Apple — Huawei has been more or less blocked from the US market.

Back in 2012, the US Congress issued a report that raised concerns about state-sponsored spying related to products made by Huawei, the biggest global maker of telecommunications equipment. The company has denied any such involvement.

In Australia, nearly six years ago, Huawei was denied any role in supplying equipment to the country's national broadband network project, following advice by ASIS, one of the spy agencies.

Last year, Australia put pressure on the Solomon Islands to drop Huawei as the main contractor for an undersea cable project.

The Project Honiara undersea cable project is expected to improve the capacity of the local telco, Our Telekom, to handle domestic and international calls.

In December, Britain's Financial Times newspaper reported that Canberra would block the deal with Huawei and instead pay the $100 million cost itself.

The director-general of ASIS, Nick Warner, spoke to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare about the undersea cable deal soon after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis visited Australia in mid-June. ASIS or the Australian Secret Intelligence Service is Australia's foreign intelligence agency.

The WSJ report said that there was no clear indication as to why AT&T had changed its plans, with the company unwilling to make any comment. When Huawei was asked about it, a spokesman only said, "Huawei has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the US market."

Smartphones made by Huawei are available in the US from online retailers and some stores, but no big mobile carrier offers the devices on plans.

iTWire has contacted Huawei for comment.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.