As an exemption to U.S. trade restrictions imposed on selected Chinese tech establishments, Qualcomm Inc. had on Friday received approval from the U.S. government to sell 4G mobile phone chips to China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
A Qualcomm spokeswoman was reported to have said:
“We received a license for a number of products, which includes some 4G products.”
After the US trade restrictions took effect in September, Qualcomm Inc., and all other American semiconductor companies were forced to stop selling tech to the Chinese technology firm.
Although, the spokesperson declined commenting on the specific 4G products Qualcomm is allowed sell to Huawei, she said they were related to mobile devices.
“Qualcomm has other license applications pending with the U.S. government,” she said.
In the past Huawei was a relatively small chip customer for Qualcomm, which is the biggest supplier of mobile phone chips.
Huawei used its own house-designed chips in its flagship handsets but used Qualcomm chips in lower-priced models.
Although, Huawei has the potential to design its own chip, the company’s access to the needed software and fabrication tools was blocked by the US trade restrictions that kicked up in September.
Industry experts and analysts believe that Huawei’s stockpile of chips purchased before the ban could run out early next year, and this could end up crippling Huawei’s smartphone business.
Analyst – Stacy Rasgon – believes that the lifted restriction would have little effect on Huawei’s operation, because the restriction was only lifted on 4G chips, while the ban still lingers on other tech, like 5G, and customers are starting to move away from 4G devices to 5G.
Rasgon said it is still unclear whether U.S. officials will grant Qualcomm licenses to sell 5G smartphone chips to Huawei.
Reuter reports that other companies, like Intel Corp., also said they have the license to sell to Huawei.