Huawei to begin mass-production of ‘US-free’ 5G base stations

Production will begin in October with the development of 5,000 5G base stations per month. 
30 September 2019

A 4G/5G basestation. Source: Shutterstock

Despite a US trade ban preventing more than 130 American companies from selling technology to it, Chinese technology giant Huawei is producing wireless 5G base stations without US components. 

As reported by Reuters, Huawei’s CEO Ren Zhengfei said the company will begin “mass production” of 5G base stations in October.

“We carried out the testing in August and September, and from October on we will start scale production,” Ren said.

Production will begin with the development of 5,000 5G base stations per month. 

The company expects annual production next year to hit 1.5 million units, more than double the 600,000 estimated for this year, which will include those already made with US components and those without. 

Concerns over Huawei’s alleged links with the Chinese government— and that use of the technology in the US would provide a “backdoor” for espionage— sparked US lawmakers to blacklist the company in May this year. 

That ban saw Huawei’s new smartphone, the Mate 30, launching without Google’s Play Store, and subsequently commonly-used apps such as Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube.

This month, Ren said Huawei was willing to share its 5G technology with Western buyers for a one-time fee, giving them access to 5G patents, licenses, code, technical blueprints, and production knowledge. 

Last week, the company even offered to make its technology available by license to US companies, stating that it was not afraid of creating a rival. 

Despite pressure from the Trump administration for the European countries to follow suit in effectively banning Huawei’s technology, Norway has today announced that it has no plans to block the company from supplying parts of its 5G infrastructure.

That means its leading multinational carrier Telenor will have no restrictions in its selection of suppliers for its 5G network. 

The country’s Minister of Digitalization, Nikolai Astrup, said Norway has “a good dialogue” with telecommunications firms about security, and will allow them to make their own risk assessments and decisions on suppliers.  

Commenting on being cut off from US-made components, Huawei told Reuters performance of its base stations was “no worse” and that the company “has had positive surprises”. 

However, Ren said the company would still like to use US components given the “emotional ties” it has with former suppliers. 

Following the ruling, UK-based chip designer ARM was forced to suspend business with Huawei because its designs contained US-origin technology, and were therefore subject to the ban.

ARM staff members were requested to cut communications and support of any kind of technical nature to Huawei contacts and other affected firms with immediate effect— despite a 90-day allowance