The geopolitical battle between China and the West is playing out in the global telecommunications market.
China is by far the world’s largest market for 4G and 5G, and the world’s largest 5G vendor, Huawei, is Chinese. Huawei has built a significant part of Europe’s 4G infrastructure and was set to play an even bigger role in 5G. But the US has targeted Huawei as part of its trade war with China, and believes that countries that use Huawei equipment in their telecom infrastructure are exposing themselves to the risk of spying and sabotage—accusations the company vigorously denies.
As a result, the US has prevented companies that use American technology from selling critical components to Huawei. The UK’s intelligence services determined that US sanctions have turned Huawei into too much of a security risk, and the government recently announced a ban on Huawei equipment in Britain’s 5G network by 2027 (Quartz member exclusive).