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Huawei in early talks to license 5G tech to US telecom companies, exec says

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is in early-stage discussions to license its 5G network technology to some U.S. telecom providers, Vincent Pang, senior vice president and director at the Chinese company, told Reuters.

The telecom equipment provider received interest in both a long-term partnership or a one-off transfer, although it would still be "a long journey" before any transaction is finalized, Pang reportedly said.

In May, the U.S. blacklisted Huawei for perceived threats to national security or foreign policy interest — a move that the company and China had condemned. The federal government agreed to grant special licenses to some American companies dealing with Huawei ahead of another round of trade talks between the U.S. and China, according to an Oct. 9 report by The New York Times.

The White House is also lobbying for allies to ban Huawei from its 5G networks. New Zealand and Australia have imposed partial to complete bans on the tech company's 5G equipment. Meanwhile, Germany decided not to ban Huawei in 5G network buildout projects, even after warnings from the U.S. government.

In September, CEO Ren Zhengfei said Huawei is willing to license 5G technologies to a U.S. company exclusively, rather than to companies based in Europe, Japan or South Korea. "Since the U.S. has no such company [like Huawei] that produces a full 5G technology stack, we would like to license the technology to a U.S. company to be fair in the 5G race," Ren said.

Huawei's technology portfolio includes 5G patents, source codes, hardware and software manufacturing know-how, and chip designs.

U.S. telecom carriers have signed 5G contracts with European equipment vendors Ericsson and Nokia, and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. However, the quality of Huawei's equipment is generally higher than its peers', according to a study by U.K. research institution GlobalData PLC. Huawei's equipment portfolio is also the most comprehensive.