Emergency big telco meeting over Huawei at MWC

Knocking Huawei and ZTE out of the bidding could easily lead to increases of 10% to 30% in equipment spending. CITI analyst Amit Harchandani already hears “customers talk about the fact that any potential action against the Chinese could trigger price inflation within the industry.

GSMA Director General, Mats Granryd, will bring the issue to the Board during Mobile World Congress in three weeks. The GSMA Board includes the CEOs of Orange/France Telecom, Telefonica, Telstra, MTN, Axiata, Turkcell, NTT DOCOMO, MTS, and SK (Korea.) Verizon, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and the three giant Chinese are sending top executives.

British Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have both been actively trying to protect Huawei. DT has designed a special program of extensive testing for Huawei gear. It hopes that will satisfy the security people. Howard Watson of BT made a point of publicly stating Huawei was ahead on 5G. That led many to believe blocking Huawei would slow 5G deployment, as it has in Optus Australia.

All of the telcos want to continue working with Huawei because it’s a reliable provider. I suspect they will be sharing strategy about how to resist government pressure. I don’t know whether they will issue a joint statement or (more likely) look to GSMA to speak for them.

Huawei will do fine even if much of the West boycotts. 40% of the Internet is now China. The fastest growth by far is in places like India. I think Africa is ready to accelerate as well.

Meanwhile, China is spending tens of billions to make sure the U.S. can never again force an unequal treaty.

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