AT&T has been trying to get a working relationship with Huawei going for the last several months, but keeps running into Congressional pressure to avoid the Chinese company over national security concerns. The wireless carrier earlier this month backed out of a planned deal to carry the Mate 10 Pro, and now they may be forced to end discussions on standards for a high-speed 5G network.
Various lawmakers appear to be exerting pressure on AT&T to end any type of relationship with Huawei, as well as China Mobile, sources have told Reuters. Apparently, there is a growing concern of Chinese influence in U.S. businesses, which has also led to other proposed deals with other Chinese companies to be killed in other sectors.
The pressure is coming in the form of a threat to any deals with the federal government if AT&T continues to have contact with Huawei and China Mobile, the sources said. That includes AT&T current partnership with Huawei on creating a robust next-generation 5G network, as well as AT&T's use of Huawei devices through its discount subsidiary Cricket.
“We hope that China and the United States can work hard together to maintain the healthy and stable development of trade and business ties," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a briefing in Beijing. "This accords with the joint interests of both.”
Both Huawei and China Mobile have been at the forefront of Congressional national security concerns over China's influence in the United States. In 2012, both were labeled as threats by a House committee.
China Mobile, the largest wireless provider in the world, has been trying to get a license to operate in the United States, but has so far been stymied. Its application has been in for consideration by the FCC since 2011.
Huawei has said that it will continue into the U.S. market on its own, selling its Mate 10 Pro through vendors such as Microsoft, Best Buy, and Amazon, starting on February 18. CEO Richard Yu downplayed the security concerns at CES, saying “We win the trust of the Chinese carriers, we win the trust of the emerging markets... and also we win the trust of the global carriers, all the European and Japanese carriers. We are serving over 70 million people worldwide. We’ve proven our quality, we’ve proven our privacy and security protection.”