The US government plans to give engineers from US companies permission to participate in standards discussions that involve Huawei.
American companies are currently banned from doing business with Huawei following a decision by the US Department of Commerce to blacklist the Chinese mobile giant last year on national security grounds.
Despite legal challenges, the ban remains in place, although some US firms have been given licences to do business with Huawei.
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Confusion about what activities are permitted under the restrictions has limited the influence of US technology firms at meetings that will define global telecommunication standards such as 5G. Some companies have barred engineers from participating in informal conversations that involve Huawei, while others remain silent during formal discussions.
The concern is that this is giving Huawei a bigger say in how standards will be defined, putting the US at a disadvantage.
Sources have told Reuters that the Department of Commerce is drafting a new rule that would explicitly give permission for US companies to speak freely in standards meetings where Huawei is also present. The implementation of the rule depends on approval from other agencies who might still object.
The US ban forms part of a wider assault on Huawei by the US government in recent years. Although Huawei has effectively been frozen out of the US market to date, it does supply a number of smaller, rural operators who rely on the firm’s relatively inexpensive gear.
Washington has approved a funding package for these carriers to strip out this equipment and replace it with alternatives from the likes of Ericsson and Nokia, while it has also banned Huawei from dealing with US companies.
These actions are justified on national security grounds, however the US has never produced any evidence to support its claims and Huawei has persistently denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
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