AT&T Deal To Sell Huawei Smartphones Falls Apart In 11th Hour
Huawei was set to have a big 2018 as it was finally expected to land a major U.S. carrier to sell its devices through a partnership with AT&T. The deal would have seen the Mate 10 Pro, Huawei's competitor to the iPhone X, available through a major carrier in the States for the first time. That deal has been cancelled according to people claiming knowledge about the deal.
The reason blamed for the deal falling apart is pressure from the U.S. Senate and House intelligence committees via a letter sent to the FCC back on December 20. In that letter the committees raised concerns about Huawei's plans to launch consumer products in the U.S. Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE were both considered potential threats to security of the U.S. and in 2012 the House intelligence committee said that both firms should be barred from any major acquisitions or mergers in the U.S.
The fear is that the Chinese government could gain a backdoor into critical U.S. infrastructure via products these companies make, or potentially steal secrets and information via backdoors in products like networking gear and smartphones. Huawei has stated that while the Mate 10 Pro won't be offered via a carrier in the U.S., it would be offered via open channels.
"The U.S. market presents unique challenges for Huawei, and while the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro will not be sold by U.S. carriers, we remain committed to this market now and in the future," the electronics giant said in a statement to Reuters.
AT&T has offered no official statement on the dealings, while Huawei has vowed to make its phones available on the open market, the lack of a major carrier deal will certainly hurt sales. Huawei's Mate 10 Pro launched back in October in Europe and sells for 799 euros, which is about $955. The company is currently the world's third largest smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple. For a while last September, Huawei had surpassed Apple to become the world's second largest smartphone maker.