“Our government has declared that AT&T and Verizon cannot use Huawei,” Stephenson said. “We get it. There are people who are concerned from a national security standpoint about having a company that they have concerns about propagated throughout our networks.”
When it comes to Europe, Stephenson didn’t take a position on whether Huawei should be allowed to sell, but he did say that countries relying on its equipment should force the Chinese company to work with competitors and partners.
“You need to allow Nokia or Ericsson or Samsung to operate a 5G network on top of yours,” he said. “That’s a good first step so that you’re now not just locked into one player, one provider for 5G.”
American and other global companies will have a harder time competing, he said, if their equipment can’t be used in the upgrade to 5G, which will be faster and allow for a far greater number of internet-connected devices.
The U.S. has more aggressively pursued its claims against Huawei more recently by seeking to extradite the company’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, from Canada on allegations of fraud related to Iran sanctions and by prosecuting the company for alleged trade secrets theft against T-Mobile.
In January 2018, AT&T and Verizon dropped Huawei-made phones from their lineup after pressure from the U.S. government.
Huawei could not immediately be reached for comment for this story.