New rule lets US companies work with Huawei on 5G standards

The move provides US firms the green light to participate in forming international standards, after its blacklist of Huawei inadvertently barred it from discussions.
19 June 2020

The world of 5G is inching in. Source: AFP

  • Last year, the US placed Huawei on the Commerce Department’s blacklist, restricting the sales of US goods and technology to the company 
  • As a result, US companies were reported to be incidentally sidelined from technical standards conversations

US companies can work with Huawei on setting standards for next-generation technologies such as 5G, the Department of Commerce (DoC) announced this week. 

This move provides US firms the green light to participate in the formation of “standards,” specifying the rules and regulations governing emerging technologies. 

In May 2019, the US placed Huawei on the DoC’s entity list, which restricted the sales of US goods and technology to the company due to national security concerns. 

By doing so, the industry and government officials found that the US is at a disadvantage in standards setting (where companies come together and develop specifications that allow equipment to function together).

The entity listing backfired, as US engineers were unable to participate in international discussions and sharing of standards, leaving the US potentially trailing behind as global companies move forward with the next-gen network.

The DoC amended the rule and aimed to reassure US companies that they are now able to work with Huawei in standards-setting groups. 

The US DoC Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement: “The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. This action recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security.

“The rule reiterated the importance of the States’ participance in standards-setting, which “influences the future of 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies.”

5G is expected to turbocharge telecommunications services. The light-speed wireless networks will enable high-definition video transmissions and support data-laden video communications. This will bolster industries such as healthcare, which are increasingly exploring the potential of next-gen technologies to offer telehealth services.

survey by McKinsey also found that a majority (76%) of patients are highly or moderately likely to use telehealth in the future, and up to 74% reported high satisfaction after using telehealth services. 

5G is also key to the future of manufacturing. The next-gen wireless network promises to drive smart manufacturing, bringing ‘mobility’ and ‘flexibility’ to factory floors.

A 5G-connected factory will see increased productivity and optimized workflow due to the deployment of sensors and IoT (Internet of Things) in monitoring the conditions of equipment. As a result, the streams of data can be used to form predictive models, allowing maintenance to be done prior to a complete breakdown and disrupting workflows. 

Basically, 5G will help the management of millions of connected devices, and this would be invaluable for any nation that is powered by manufacturing. 

The amended rule that enables US companies to work with Huawei on 5G is a significant hint that the US is bullish on its 5G ambition and aware of the power of the next-gen mobile network. 

Earlier this year, the US released two new bills set to bolster the development of 5G in the nation by securing 5G infrastructure and services as well as expanding the next-gen network services across all regions in the country.