On Monday (May 20), the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would allow limited exports to Huawei and its 68 affiliates through a Temporary General License (TGL) lasting 90 days, from May 20 through August 19.
In a news release announcing the TGL, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “The Temporary General License grants operators time to make other arrangements and the Department space to determine the appropriate long-term measures for Americans and foreign telecommunications providers that currently rely on Huawei equipment for critical services. In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks.”
The TGL appears to be aimed at operators using Huawei infrastructure equipment and owners of Huawei handsets. It doesn’t provide relief for U.S. component suppliers, except perhaps for equipment repair and maintenance. The formal ruling, published in the Federal Register, identifies four cases that fall under the TGL:Continued Operation of Existing Networks and Equipment
“BIS authorizes engagement in transactions, subject to other provisions of the EAR, necessary to maintain and support existing and currently fully operational networks and equipment, including software updates and patches, subject to legally binding contracts and agreements executed between Huawei and third parties or the sixty-eight non-U.S. Huawei affiliates and third parties on or before May 16, 2019.”Support to Existing Handsets
“BIS authorizes engagement in transactions, subject to other provisions of the EAR, necessary to provide service and support, including software updates or patches, to existing Huawei handsets that were available to the public on or before May 16, 2019.”Cybersecurity Research and Vulnerability Disclosure
“BIS authorizes, subject to other provisions of the EAR, the disclosure to Huawei and/or the sixty-eight non-U.S. affiliates of information regarding security vulnerabilities in items owned, possessed, or controlled by Huawei or any of the sixty-eight non-U.S. affiliates when related to the process of providing ongoing security research critical to maintaining the integrity and reliability of existing and currently fully operational networks and equipment, as well as handsets.”Engagement as Necessary for Development of 5G Standards by a Duly Recognized Standards Body
“BIS authorizes, subject to other provisions of the EAR, engagement with Huawei and/or the sixty-eight non-U.S. affiliates as necessary for the development of 5G standards as part of a duly recognized international standards body (e.g., IEEE — Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; IETF — Internet Engineering Task Force; ISO — International Organization for Standards; ITU — International Telecommunications Union; ETSI — European Telecommunications Standards Institute; 3GPP — 3rd Generation Partnership Project; TIA — Telecommunications Industry Association; and GSMA, a.k.a., GSM Association, Global System for Mobile Communications).”
The most interesting category is the last: allowing Huawei to continue participating in 5G standards bodies. Without this, technical information provided to Huawei could be construed to be an illegal export, which could freeze the 5G ecosystem. It’s ironic that despite U.S. concerns about the “5G race” with China, and Huawei seen as carrying the torch for China, excluding Huawei from the technical community is seen as too draconian a step.