With Huawei currently an undisputed world leader in fifth-generation wireless equipment, both lawmakers and tech experts in the US have been increasingly underscoring the need for a strong US rival to the Chinese tech giant that Washington is seeking to prevent from getting a foothold in its emerging 5G network.
Rivals ‘Nipping at Huawei’s Heels’
Amidst a lack of diversity on the 5G market, Huawei has been offering the most affordable end-to-end solutions for national telecom providers.
The founder of 5G equipment provider Parallel Wireless, Steve Papa, was quoted by Fox Business as saying that while many factors to date set Huawei far apart from other rivals in the 5G landscape, companies are fast emerging capable of contesting the Chinese telecom giant’s dominance.
"We have American alternatives right now… There are three vendors: Parallel Wireless, Mavenir, and Altiostar… I'm trying to tell the story that if we don't move faster, we have a big defense problem. I'm trying to say that as an authority on the subject," said Papa.
Papa conceded that "more investor and government resources" are required for 5G wireless equipment manufacturers to catch up with Huawei, which purportedly enjoys the backing of the Chinese government.
Papa said that companies like Parallel are "nipping at Huawei's heels", but need more help and fast.
According to the expert, Ericsson and Nokia are to date the most credible alternatives to the Chinese company, yet doubted they might in any way be ready to “disrupt Huawei," adding:
"Nokia, in the last 10 years, has only acquired market share of less competitive companies, and Ericsson bribes its customers to buy its products. Is this the behavior of companies trying to disrupt Huawei?"
Earlier, in a speech on Chinese innovation on 6 February, Attorney General William Barr suggested that bearing in mind its concerns regarding Huawei, the US could throw its weight behind European telecom equipment leaders Ericsson and Nokia.
"Some propose that these concerns could be met by the United States aligning itself with Nokia and/or Ericsson through American ownership of a controlling stake, either directly or through a consortium of private American and allied companies," said Barr.
On 28 February the US Senate voted unanimously to pass the Secure and Trusted Telecommunications Networks Act that would ban the purchase of telecom equipment from embattled Chinese manufactures like Huawei and ZTE.
Earlier, in January, Senator Mark Warner introduced legislation to invest $1 billion in Western rivals to Huawei and Chinese equipment provider ZTE.
In a statement timed to the introduction of the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act, the Virginia Senator said:
"Every month that the US does nothing, Huawei stands poised to become the cheapest, fastest, most ubiquitous global provider of 5G, while U.S. and Western companies and workers lose out on market share and jobs… It is imperative that Congress address the complex security and competitiveness challenges that Chinese-directed telecommunication companies pose."
Huawei 'Security Concerns'
US experts and officials have been on the lookout for able competitors to Huawei ever since Washington branded the tech company a national security risk due to alleged reliance on the Chinese government and its leaders' own ties to the country's Communist Party.
Huawei was accused by the US government of installing “back doors” in its technologies that the Chinese authorities might purportedly cash in on – a claim flatly denied both by Beijing and the tech giant.
In May, Washington blacklisted the Chinese titan, barring US companies from dealing with Huawei and requiring them to apply for a special license to continue business contacts with the Chinese manufacturer.