Huawei keeps U.S. in focus, despite potential Sprint setback

Huawei is not giving up on the U.S. market despite a report claiming that national security concerns caused Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) to shut the Chinese company (and its smaller Chinese rival ZTE) out of the bidding process for the firm's network modernization project. Huawei has insinuated that these concerns are largely overblown.

Charlie Chen, Huawei's senior vice president for U.S. marketing, told the Financial Times that eventually Huawei will land a deal with a major U.S. carrier, even if it does not happen right away. "It may take a long time. It may take three or five or 10 years, it doesn't matter, we'll get there," he said.

According to a report earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal, Sprint decided to cut Huawei and ZTE out of the bidding process for its multi-billion-dollar network modernization project after U.S. government officials expressed security concerns. Both the Journal and the FT have reported that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke contacted Sprint CEO Dan Hesse about the concerns. Sprint has declined to comment on the bidding process, and Huawei representatives have said Sprint has not contacted them about the speculation.

Huawei has previously committed to taking a "long-term view" toward North America, so Chen's comments are not entirely surprising. However, they likely are an indication that Huawei will not be deterred in expanding its presence in the U.S market.

The Journal report said that Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU) and Samsung are the two finalists for the Sprint bid. Sprint's target range for the contract is said to be between $5 billion and $7 billion, and the carrier hopes to announce a vendor partner by year-end.

Bill Plummer, a Washington-based Huawei executive, told the FT that the security concerns are mainly about cybersecurity as a broad threat, and not Huawei specifically. "The interdependence of the supply chain is just now beginning to be understood in this town," he said, pointing out that U.S. companies manufacture much of their equipment in China.

For more:
- see this FT article

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