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Huawei hit by last minute collapse of AT&T phone distribution deal

Huawei was close to announcing a partnership with AT&T - sources

Image Credit: Reuters
A crew hangs a Huawei advertising banner on the side of the Las Vegas Convention Center as workers prepare for the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, US.
Gulf News

HONG KONG: A deal under which US carrier AT&T Inc was to have sold smartphones made by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has collapsed at the eleventh hour, people with knowledge of the matter said, in a major setback for the Chinese firm’s global ambitions.

A separate person familiar with the discussions said that security concerns had arisen without elaborating further.

AT&T was pressured to drop the deal after members of the US Senate and House intelligence committees sent a letter on Dec. 20 to the Federal Communications Commission citing concerns about Huawei’s plans to launch consumer products through a major US telecom carrier, online tech news site The Information reported.

 The Mate 10 Pro, launched in Europe in October with a price tag of €799 (Dh3,507; $955), comes with AI-enhanced chips that Huawei says process data faster than those used by Apple and Samsung.


Huawei said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday that its flagship premium smartphone Mate 10 Pro — Huawei’s challenge to the iPhone — will not be sold in the United States via a telecoms carrier but only through open channels.

“The US market presents unique challenges for Huawei, and while the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro will not be sold by US carriers, we remain committed to this market now and in the future,” the electronics giant said in a statement.

Huawei was widely expected to announce a partnership with AT&T to distribute its phones in the United States this year, said the people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified as the talks were private. AT&T declined to comment.

The Mate 10 Pro, launched in Europe in October with a price tag of 799 euros (Dh3,507; $955), comes with AI-enhanced chips that Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone vendor, says process data faster than those used by Apple and Samsung.

But the collapse of the deal with AT&T, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, will mean that Huawei will likely struggle to make a hit of its smartphones there as a US mobile carrier would typically promote the products as well as provide subsidies and special package deals.

In 2012, Huawei and ZTE Corp were the subject of a US investigation that looked into whether the companies’ equipment provided an opportunity for greater foreign espionage and threatened critical US infrastructure — a link that Huawei has consistently denied.

— Reuters

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