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Congress wants Huawei links investigated in Sprint/T-Mobile merger

By Jules Wang July 4, 2018, 10:59 pm

House lawmakers want the Treasury Department to press Sprint on its links with Huawei as it heads into a national security review of the merger between that wireless service provider and T-Mobile.

Bloomberg has obtained a draft letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin detailing some of the connections the nation’s fourth-largest carrier have with Huawei, a telecom equipment provider which is considered to be under the influence of an adversarial Chinese government and, thus, a national security threat.

One nagging point is a claim that Sprint failed to excise Huawei equipment from its grid after agreeing do so in 2013.

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“Three years later, Sprint under the control of SoftBank, confirmed Huawei equipment remained in use in their networks in contravention of the 2013 agreement,” the letter reads.

As Sprint and T-Mobile make the case for the deal based on 5G leadership in the wireless industry, the House members are also concerned about a recent agreement between Sprint parent SoftBank and Huawei on new 5G network demonstrations, including those for autonomous robots in the service industry.

SoftBank controls IC design firm ARM, which sells chip core reference designs to Huawei.

Sprint sent a statement in response to the reported draft:

Sprint is proud of our track record on [compliance with the national security agreement] and confident that the combined company will continue to make network security a top priority.

Sprint and T-Mobile also have other stumbling blocks to go over with regulators as their transaction comes under review including deteriorating effects on competition in the prepaid market.

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