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Exclusive: Docomo won’t carry Huawei 5G phones

  • September 17, 2019
  • , Nikkei Asian Review , 07:01 p.m.
  • English Press

SHIGENORI ARAI, Nikkei staff writer


TOKYO — NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier, will not offer phones from Huawei Technologies for its 5G network, based on concerns about restricted access to Google services, Nikkei has learned.


Docomo looks to begin selling 5G-compatible phones when it starts fifth-generation wireless service next spring.


But it will not negotiate to procure devices from Huawei, the world’s largest telecom gear manufacturer, according to several NTT group executives who requested anonymity.


Huawei’s Android troubles threaten to accelerate a shift away from its phones. Japan’s two other major carriers, KDDI and SoftBank Corp., may follow Docomo’s lead when they roll out their 5G device lineups.


Japan was the fifth-largest market for Huawei phones in 2018, with 1.88 million handsets shipped there, data from Tokyo-based MM Research Institute shows.


The U.S. has placed the Chinese company on a list of businesses barred from dealing with American suppliers. As a result, new Huawei phones likely will be unable to use popular apps such as Gmail that run on Android.


The U.S. Commerce Department granted a partial reprieve from the ban to let Huawei maintain and support existing gear. During this grace period, which was extended for another 90 days on Aug. 19, the Chinese company can provide Android updates for handsets it has already sold.


But the restrictions still apply to new phones, meaning that Huawei likely cannot load them with Google software beyond the free, open-source version of the Android platform.

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