The runway lights have started to pulse. First, there was word that Huawei’s semiconductor unit, HiSilicon, had moved its proprietary Kirin chipset designs through AT&T’s certification procedural. Then it seemed like the US was being put to the backseat with the roll-out of the Honor 9 — apparently, we’re supposed to wait until next Q1 before we hear anything exciting on that general front.
Now, there’s reporting from The Information that claims AT&T has gone into an initial agreement with Huawei to sell one of its phones within the first half of 2018. That would give the 30-year-old Chinese manufacturer its first device on any US carrier, prepaid or postpaid, in years.
It is unclear if the Shenzhen-based phone maker will opt to launch its anticipated global flagship for fall 2017, the Mate 10, on the nation’s second-most populated network, wait until late spring to do a true worldwide debut of the next P-series phone or take a completely different route with a device unknown to us.
The Department of Defense had labeled Huawei a “national security threat” over indications of cyber espionage by the Chinese government through the use of the company’s telecommunications systems. Consumer-facing mobile technology companies in the US have seen this as a scarlet letter hanging on the company, fit only to avoid. Huawei has denied the claims.
And yet, the company stands as the third-largest smartphone company by shipment volume with tallies only standing behind Apple and Samsung.
As competitor ZTE, also accused of cyber spying, has been fixing its reputation and hustling a boutique, but healthy unlocked phone front in the United States, Huawei has attempted to do the same with its Honor brand. Even as the Department of Justice investigated and fined ZTE for a breach of international sanctions, its devices have consistently maintained a presence in the US prepaid and budget phone scene.