The United States has once again pushed back the date when its full ban on doing business with Huawei will take effect, the Department of Commerce announced this week. Instead of ending on April 1st, the temporary general license, which is what’s allowing companies to still do business with Huawei, will now expire after May 15th. At the same time, the department is also asking for public input on this temporary license, including whether it needs to be changed or extended further.
For those keeping track, this is technically the fourth extension to the temporary license that the US government has granted. After initially banning US companies from doing business with Huawei back in May over concerns that the Chinese government could use the company to spy on Americans, the Commerce Department was quick to issue a temporary three-month license to allow Huawei to continue to support its phones and networking equipment. It then extended this license for another 90 days last August, November, and then for an additional 45 days in February of this year.
The extension will be most important for rural telecom providers, many of which have grown reliant on Huawei’s networking equipment. The Commerce Department’s announcement notes that it hopes providers will be able to use the 45-day extension to “identify alternatives to Huawei for future operation.” The US government is also planning to provide a $1 billion fund to pay for replacing the provider’s equipment. Senators approved the bill last month, which will now need to be signed into law by President Trump.