Has Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought gone off the deep end? Does he realize he is committing blasphemy in this political environment?
As predictable as it is to expect the president to fire anybody who disagrees with him, I am waiting to see how long it takes for the president to boot Vought. Why? Because he came out with a statement arguing that the ban on Huawei should be delayed for two years. His reasoning is simple. The United States cannot ban them without losing a lot of ground in the wireless technology arena. We cannot replace them at the drop of a hat.
Wow! Perhaps this is one brave soul’s attempt to gain some time to see if this administration gets recycled in the next election and repopulates the Washington landscape with cooler heads. Oddly, I have not heard much more about this since Vought made this statement.
Vought argued in favor of delaying the ban because there really is no replacement for Huawei’s technology. They are the largest and most advanced 5G technology provider in the world.
Vought is on the clock. Rules signed into law last year are to be officially introduced in 2020. These laws would place a ban on any government funds being used to purchase Huawei products, services or components.
Vought makes the case that this knee-jerk reaction, by the administration, would significantly reduce the number of vendors available for government agencies to work with – much the same as the Huawei argument, while they were still trying to work with the White House. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that this will have a significant effect on 5G.
The director’s argument is not an unfamiliar one. Another voice for moderation came from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said that security and trade are separate issues and should not be lumped together in the same basket. His position is that security issues will be “resolved one way or another” and the trade issue should be a different discussion.
For some time now, many other voices from a variety of vectors, have warned that aggressive stances against Huawei, and China in general, will do more damage, to the emerging wireless technology market, than the situation it is designed to solve. It will decrease competition for contracts in the wireless space, pushing up component costs and, subsequently, peripheral costs, while lowering the quality of service offered.
At the recent 5G World 2019 event in London, UK Secretary for DCMS Jeremy Wright did a tap dance around the Huawei case, implying that U.S, actions are making it difficult for other countries to move forward with 5G deployments. However, he stopped short of agreeing, or disagreeing, with the U.S. stance. U.S. allies are trying to tread lightly around this issue. However, the bottom line is that they have to do what is best for them.
Another issue is that, presently, the only real competition to Huawei is Ericsson, Nokia and Cisco. Unfortunately, Cisco is dealing with its own security issues in some of its products. I believe Ericsson will have trouble ramping up. That leaves Nokia as the dominate supplier.
One can see the writing on the wall when it comes to vendors stepping up. I highly doubt these players will feel sorry for the United States and keep prices under control. Besides, who knows if Trump, in one of his fits of anger, will turn on them for one reason or another?
It seems that lately, concerns in Washington are growing that the administration is doing is not in our best interests. Are some people waking up, finally?
On the other hand, there still seems to be little concern from the White House of the impact to private industry. Complaints from rural telcos, and cries from organizations where Huawei is an important customer, still fall on deaf ears. The administration seems to be willing to sacrifice any number of pawns with its unrelenting ire to punish the Chinese – warranted or not.
In the end, we should not be surprised at the inconsistency and hypocrisy coming out of the White House. As this drama continues to unfold, who will end up paying for it? The consumer, of course. Not only in higher prices, but also in the level of technology. Huawei, as I mentioned earlier, is the undisputed leader in 5G technology.
Other countries have, other than trivially or superficially, refused to buckle under Trump and his pressure to dump Huawei. In addition, while America may be one heck of a market, 5G is global and if the United States threatens, or dumps, everyone in the Huawei ecosystem, we are going to be a nation of lonely vendors and users falling way behind in the next generation of the wireless evolution.
There was such a ruckus made back in 2018 about winning the race to 5G. I have always dismissed that race hype and, in the end, it was just that. However, if one wants something new to spin, how about dialog around keeping that “first place” some claim we won. Huawei may be taking some hits. However, when all is said and done, the United States will be the one on the receiving end of the economic and technological blows.