Huawei to regain access to MediaTek and Qualcomm chipsets but still has its eyes set on going it alone
The US government may have given Huawei's mobile business a shot in the arm, only months after heaping more restrictions on the company. In May, the US government decided to prevent companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but now the Financial Times claims that the administration has reversed its decision. While the US government still considers Huawei a security threat to the country's 5G infrastructure, this no longer extends to Huawei's mobile business.
Hence, the likes of MediaTek and Qualcomm will soon receive official trading licenses from the US Department of Commerce to work with Huawei again. The US has already granted similar licenses to Samsung Display and Microsoft, although the latter seems only to apply to the supply of Windows licenses. Nonetheless, Huawei may be able to equip future smartphones, tablets and smartwatches with MediaTek and Qualcomm chipsets, which is currently not an option for the company.
However, the Financial Times also claims that Huawei has plans to build a chipset fabrication plant to circumvent sanctions imposed by the US government. The plant will be overseen by a partner called Shanghai IC R&D Center and will reputedly be operational before the end of the year. The Financial Times adds that the plant will not use any US technologies, but Huawei has only scaled to a 45 nm process so far. Apparently, the company is on track to reach 28 nm by the end of 2021, with 20 nm slated for 2022. Hence, this US-free plant will not be ready to supply Huawei with mobile chipsets, which may be where MediaTek and Qualcomm fill the gip. Qualcomm uses a 28 nm process for its Wear 2100, Wear 2500 and Wear 3100 chipsets, for example, so Huawei could use its 28 nm or 20 nm in-house chips for less performance-hungry devices like IoT devices, smart TVs and smartwatches.
The question of Google Mobile Services (GMS) will remain for Huawei's mobile division, though. Without these, Huawei will continue to find it tough to sell its smartphones and tablets in the US and Europe.