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Attorney General suggests US should take stake in Ericsson, Nokia to compete with Huawei

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Attorney General

US Attorney General William Barr suggests a way for the US to compete with Huawei. 


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The race for 5G goes beyond just faster download speeds for the average phone user. Concerned about Chinese tech companies such as Huawei taking the lead on the next-generation wireless technology, the US attorney general says the United States should take a stake in foreign tech companies to compete. 

Attorney General William Barr proposed that the US could take a “controlling stake” in Finland’s Nokia or Sweden’s Ericsson to counter Huawei’s 5G dominance. He suggests this could be done directly by the US or through a consortium with allies. 

“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power, or their staying power,” Barr said at the China Initiative Conference held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday.

One key consideration is the development of better AI with the 5G spectrum.

“As China captures more and more of the data generated by its 5G infrastructure, it can produce better artificial intelligence because that is what artificial intelligence learns from,” he said. “The more data, the better the AI. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

Huawei is one of the leading manufacturers of networking gear, including 5G equipment, used by telecommunications companies around the world. It also had a commanding 37% of the 5G phone market share in 2019.

In January, senators proposed a bill for more than $1 billion in subsidies to enhance and research the development of 5G. 

In a statement, Nokia said it always welcomes investor interest, but couldn’t comment on Barr’s statement. Ericsson declined comment.

The US Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published Feb. 7 at 6:52 a.m. PT. 
Update 7:19 a.m. PT : Adds Nokia comment and background details. 7:56 a.m. PT: Adds Ericsson response.

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