Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Huawei offers to sell 5G IP

William Payne
September 19, 2019

Huawei's chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, has said his company could sell its 5G know-how to a western company as a way of meeting concerns over the company's independence and trustworthiness.

The United States and Australia have banned Huawei from their country's 5G networks over concerns that the company cannot be independent of the Chinese government and its espionage activities.

Countries in Europe have also expressed concerns about the firm. France has passed a law to circumscribe Huawei's activities in its 5G networks. Germany and the UK are considering their position, but have not banned Huawei so far.

Concerns over the company centre on Chinese state law and also the firm's apparently deep connections with the PLA, the Chinese army, and also with Chinese intelligence agencies.

Multiple technical personnel in Huawei appear to hold simultaneous positions with Chinese intelligence agencies, including outfits known to carry out hacking against western governments, according to research by Fulbright University.

Article 77 of China's State Security Law requires the company to cooperate with the country's security and military agencies.

The proposal by Ren Zhengfei is an attempt to address such concerns, and provide a mechanism for western governments to exert control over the firm's 5G products without involving Huawei.

Ren Zhengfei said the buyer would be able to 'change the software code'.

A spokesman for the company has confirmed that the chief executive's comments reflect high level thinking within the company and represent a formal offer to western buyers.

The main area where Huawei has a strong market position is in 5G network infrastructure. Its main competitors are Scandinavian firms Nokia and Ericsson.

Huawei has developed a low power data encoding protocol for 5G called 'polar codes' which is says will extend the life of battery-powered 5G devices compared to industry alternative 5G data encoding.