Huawei Ban Extended to 2021 Over 5G Concerns, Despite Objections

The Trump administration extended the President’s executive order prohibiting U.S. companies from working with or using telecommunications equipment from firms deemed a national security risk for another year on Wednesday. The order bans operations with telecommunications equipment company Huawei, preventing it from selling products in the U.S. until May 2021.

The original executive order was issued in May 2019 and prevented U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei. National security concerns arose from the company’s equipment for network infrastructure, particularly infrastructure for 5G wireless networks. Concerns arose due to alleged connections with the Chinese government. The ban is especially critical as countries around the world adopt 5G.

The order invokes the International Emergency Economic Act, giving the President authorization to regulate commerce during a national emergency. However, the U.S. Commerce Department could once again extend a license permitting companies to continue doing business with Huawei. This license is scheduled to expire on May 15 and has already received multiple short-term extensions. The extension was granted to allow Huawei to continue to provide support for existing devices sold to consumers.

Some parties within the communications industry have concerns over these brief extensions.  According to Reuters, CTIA, the wireless industry trade association, urged the Commerce Department to approve a longer-term license, saying, “now is not the time to hamper global operators’ ability to maintain the health of the networks.” It also implored the Department to “reinstate and modify its prior authorization for standards development work to allow for exchanges with Huawei in furtherance of global telecommunications standards.”

The Commerce Department added Huawei to its economic blacklist in May 2019 and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) similarly designated the company as a national security risk in November.