Qualcomm gets US nod to sell 4G chips to Huawei in exception to ban

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Qualcomm Inc on Friday received a license from the U.S. government to sell 4G mobile phone chips to China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, an exemption to U.S. trade restrictions imposed amid rising tensions with China.

“We received a license for a number of products, which includes some 4G products,” a Qualcomm spokeswoman told Reuters.

Qualcomm and all other American semiconductor companies were forced to stop selling to the Chinese technology firm in September after U.S. trade restrictions took effect.

The spokeswoman declined to comment on the specific 4G products Qualcomm can sell to Huawei but 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.

Huawei‘s potential to design its own chips was thwarted in September by U.S. trade restrictions that blocked its access to chip design software and fabrication tools. Industry analysts believe Huawei‘s stockpile of chips purchased before the ban could run out early next year, crippling its smartphone business.

Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said the Qualcomm license would have a “limited impact” because it covers only 4G chips while consumers are shifting to newer 5G devices. Rasgon said it is still unclear whether U.S. officials will grant Qualcomm licenses for 5G smartphone chips.

Representatives for Huawei and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which grants the licenses, declined to comment.

Other U.S. companies such as Micron Technology Inc were also stopped from selling to Huawei and have said they have applied for licenses. Intel Corp has also said it has a license to sell to Huawei.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.