Breakingviews – China’s Huawei holds a 5G trump card

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A Huawei logo is seen on a cell phone screen in their store at Vina del Mar, Chile July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) – Huawei is not so easy for Western countries to rip out. The Chinese telecommunications-equipment giant founded by Ren Zhengfei owns a huge trove of next-generation wireless patents. As a global standard for 5G emerges, Huawei technology may become essential to carriers. For years, the Shenzhen-based company has dominated the mobile infrastructure market, outselling rivals Nokia and Ericsson by offering cheaper alternatives. But U.S. concerns that Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage has gained traction: officials in the UK and France are purging their own networks of Chinese-made kit. A similar reaction elsewhere will seriously dent a business that generated nearly $43 billion in revenue for Huawei last year, roughly a third of the company’s total. Replacing antennas and mast towers is one thing, though. Even if the likes of Britain’s Vodafone and BT remove all existing Huawei equipment – a move the UK government conservatively estimates will cost 2 billion pounds – global carriers will still be dependent on technology from Huawei to roll out next generation networks. Research …

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