Verizon drops all plans to sell smartphones made by China’s largest telecom equipment maker

Concerns about national security and technology transfers have led U.S. cellular carrier Verizon to back out of a deal with Huawei Technologies, China’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, to sell and distribute cellphones made by the Beijing firm.

Verizon’s decision follows an earlier one by AT&T not to introduce the Mate 10 Pro to the US market.

While Huawei devices still work on both networks, cancellation of the deals means that the Chinese firm won’t yet get a wider distribution deal. The Trump administration remains concerned about Chinese spying.

The 5G Huawei phones are next-generation. 5G is expected to be used in upcoming technologies such as self-driving cars, smartphones, and artificial intelligence.

“Your phone is the ultimate Trojan horse,” said Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics. “If someone has control of your phone, they can do a lot with it. In a nightmare scenario, they can turn on the microphone or the camera and – if you’re working for a defense contractor or chip maker – they can obtain sensitive information.” [source]

Analysis: Unlike its European allies, the Trump administration appears to be dead-set against allowing China access not just to lucrative U.S. technology markets but to the technology itself. China has a decades-long history dating back to the Clinton administration of pilfering U.S. technologies that it then uses to modernize and boost everything from consumer products to weapons systems. 

And while China is indeed investing in AI and other technology development, it’s always simpler to get your hands on technologies that already exist. Plus, as Entner noted, the administration is also concerned with Chinese espionage, which is constant. — JD

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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