ZTE showed off a sequel to its flagship phablet. The Grand Memo II LTE is a gigantic device. Here are our first impressions of ZTE's latest monolithic piece of hardware.
ZTE today announced the Grand Memo II LTE smartphone, a thinner, bigger version of its flagship phablet. The Grand Memo II LTE features a 6-inch HD screen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. ZTE says the screen consumes 80% of the device's front surface, which is among the highest screen-to-bezel ratios. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 400 processor that is paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture and back-side illumination. The front camera rates 5-megapixels. Other hardware features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, various sensors, and a 3,200mAh battery. ZTE claims the Grand Memo II offers 16 hours of HD video playback or several days of normal use. It measures 7.2mm thick. The Grand Memo II runs Android 4.4 KitKat skinned with ZTE's MiFavor 2.3 user interface. ZTE says MiFavor can memorize user habits to present useful information when needed, and it offers split-screen multitasking for power users. ZTE expects the Grand Memo II will go on sale in select markets later this year
Mozilla today made a handful of announcements about the progress of Firefox OS, which is garnering more support from phone makers and carriers around the world. To start, the Firefox OS family has grown with the ZTE Open C and Open II, and Alcatel OneTouch Fire C (pictured), Fire E, Fire S handsets all making their debut in Barcelona. The devices are all running the latest version of Firefox, which has been sped up and performs better across the board thanks to new support from Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Notably, these devices offer a mid-range experience, unlike the first device, which was marketed as an entry-level handset. In addition to the hardware partners, Mozilla has won agreements from Telkomsel and Indosat, which join the list of 21 operators supporting Firefox OS around the world. Mozilla also said it worked with Spreadtrum to create a WCDMA and EDGE turnkey reference design for Firefox OS, and a $25 chipset for low-cost Firefox OS smartphones. Last, Firefox outlined changes headed to the operating system. It will add a new universal search function available from any screen on the phone. New navigation features in the user interface will make multitasking easier, such as swiping between full-screen apps. The OS will also make it easier to share content thanks to support for NFC, as well as LTE for markets with 4G deployments. Mozilla also talked up new support it has from developers, who've begun to write more apps for the operating system.
ZTE today revealed its plans for Mobile World Congress, which takes place in Barcelona beginning February 24. The company plans to show off the Grand Memo II LTE, an Android smartphone with a 6-inch display, and the Open C, a device running Firefox OS. The company also said it plans to show off a brand new user interface for its mobile devices called MiFavor 2.3, as well as a smartwatch called the ZTE Grand Watch. More details will become available during MWC.
Aio Wireless today made three additional smartphones available to its prepaid customers. The devices, all of which have been available from other carriers for some time, include the Motorola Moto G for $149.99, the Nokia Lumia 520 for $99.99, and the ZTE Sonata 4G for $79.99. The Sonata reaches Aio Wireless stores today, but the Moto G and Lumia 520 won't be available until February 14.
Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Max, a large-screened Android smartphone that costs $299.99. The Max features a 5.7-inch HD display and it is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. The Max includes an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone supports 3G/4G LTE, and has Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Wi-Fi, and GPS on board. The Max runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and comes with ZTE's SmartView technology, which allows owners to use any two applications at the same time. The ZTE Max also comes with Boost Mobile apps, such as Boost Zone and Mobile ID. The ZTE Max is available online and in stores beginning today. Boost Mobile does not require contracts.
ZTE is back at CES this year with two big-screened phones, the Grand S II and Iconic Phablet. As their names imply, neither device is small in size, nor features.
The Aio brand's days may be numbered - since AT&T plans to replace the brand with Cricket - but for now, they're still around and pumping out new phones. Their latest is the Sonata from ZTE, a basic Android phone.
ZTE's "nubia" is a line of phones with premium design and features. It's a global brand, but also part of ZTE's push into higher-end phones in the U.S. Last year's nubia 5 was sold unlocked here, but was an expensive proposition for a phone lacking 4G LTE. ZTE has wisely fixed that glaring flaw with the nubia 5 S, and added some wild camera features, to boot, including 4K video capture. Read on for our hands-on impressions.
ZTE today formally announced the Grand S II, its flagship smartphone for 2014. The Grand S II makes heavy use of voice recognition technology in order to make the device easier to control without the use of your hands. According to ZTE, the Grand S II can recognize the owner's voice to unlock the phone, similar to the Motorola Moto X. Owners can use their voice to trigger the camera, which ZTE imagines will be helpful with group shots and selfies. ZTE took pains to improve the performance of its My-Drive application and voice commands for driving, which can be used to ask for directions or read incoming messages. The Grand S II makes use of three microphones to better reduce noise and boost call clarity, as well as capture high-fidelity audio via the voice recorder app. It uses Dolby sound paired with a Box speaker for improved music and video playback. The device runs Android and includes a 5.5-inch 1080p HD display, quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 2-megapixel user-facing camera, 3,000mAh battery and 16GB of built-in storage. ZTE didn't say when the Grand S II will go on sale, nor how much it will cost.
ZTE today said that it plans to show off a number of new devices at the Consumer Electronics Trade show in Las Vegas next week. Several of the gadgets had not been announced before today.
- Grand S II: This follow-up to last year's flagship Android smartphone is what ZTE calls a "high-precision voice phone" able to act on commands, such as unlocking and picture-taking. It also features three mics to help improve the clarity of voice calls.
- Nubia 5S / 5S Mini: The larger Nubia 5S has a 5-inch 1080p HD screen, 13-megapixel Sony RS camera sensor with f/2.0 aperture, and 4K Ultra HD video capture. The 5S Mini has a 4.7-inch IGZO display from Sharp and comes in different colors. Both devices are powered by quad-core Qualcomm processors.
- Sonata 4G: This Android smartphone is headed to AT&T's Aio Wireless prepaid service. It includes a 4-inch screen, 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core processor, and 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture.
- Phablet: ZTE teased the release of its first phablet device at CES, which it says will have a 5.7-inch HD screen with Gorilla Glass, quad-core processor, Dolby Digital, and wireless charging. The unnamed device will be able to run two apps on the screen at the same time, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note.
- Projector Hotspot: ZTE has created a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot that also includes a projector. ZTE says the Projector Hotspot will be ideal for sharing video content anywhere, while also supporting LTE access for up to eight devices.
- BlueWatch: ZTE's first smartwatch is called the BlueWatch. The device includes a pedometer and can record and analyze user movement data at all times. The BlueWatch connects to smartphones via Bluetooth and enables access to calls, social media updates, and photos.
- AT&T Wireless Home Base: ZTE is prepared to offer its own AT&T Wireless Home Base device. The home base will let people use AT&T's wireless network, rather than copper or fiber, for their home-based voice services.
ZTE announced internal organizational changes the company believes will help it compete more effectively. Moving forward, the company will focus on three pillar businesses: operators, mobile devices, and business customers. It will also target several emerging market segments, such as public IT systems and mobile broadband services. In particular, the mobile device unit will operate as a separate business headed by Zeng Xuezhong, who replaces outgoing handset manager He Shiyou. ZTE believes its LTE 4G telecommunications gear, semiconductors, and handsets will be more competitive on a global scale with its new structure. The changes are effective immediately.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that Huawei, Nokia, and ZTE did not infringe on six InterDigital patents, and it invalidated a seventh patent, clearing the companies of any wrongdoing. The ITC upheld the preliminary ruling made earlier this year. ZTE said it was pleased with the ITC's decision, while Nokia and Huawei have yet to file public responses. InterDigital's attempt to ban the import of certain ZTE, Huawei, and Nokia devices has been nixed. InterDigital, which is a patent-holding firm, filed similar complaints against Samsung.
Zact Mobile today announced that it is offering parents a customized version of the ZTE Awe that includes content from Disney and extensive parental controls. This kids' version of the Awe will feature Disney apps, as well as access to Disney music and video programming. It offers Spanish-language Disney content, too. The parental controls allow parents to remotely control when the phone can used, which apps can be used, who the child can contact, as well as cease service, and more. Parents will need to download a separate Zact Control app for their own iPhone or Android smartphone in order to give them control over the Awe. The ZTE Awe is an entry-level Android smartphone priced at $99. Zact's monthly service plans start as low as $3.49.
Zact Mobile today announced the addition of the ZTE Awe to its roster of smartphones. The Awe, which is also sold by Virgin Mobile USA, is an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device that features a 4-inch WVGA display, 1.2GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. Zact Mobile is selling the phone for $89, and its customizable prepaid service plans start as low as $3.49 per month.
Phone Scoop was able to spend a few moments with the recently announced ZTE Warp 4G for Boost Mobile and the ZTE Source for Cricket Wireless. Here are our initial impressions.
Cricket Wireless today introduced the ZTE Source, a new Android smartphone that features a 4.5-inch display and 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. The Source includes a 5-megapixel main camera that can capture 720p HD video and a 1-megapixel user-facing camera for video chats. Both sensors use back-side illumination for better low-light performance. The Source also includes 4GB of built-in storage and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and ships with Cricket's Muve Music service. The Source is compatible with Cricket's LTE network. It will be available online and in stores beginning October 20 for $219.99. Service plans start as low as $45 per month. Cricket Wireless is in the process of being acquired by AT&T.
Mozilla today released Firefox OS version 1.1. The newest rendition of its smartphone platform adds a wide range of new features and capabilities. The update enables push notifications in the platform, as well as adds support for MMS, and adaptive app search. The platform received contact management improvements that let users sync their Google and Hotmail contacts in addition to Facebook and SIM card contacts. It is also easier to edit contacts that are already saved on the phone. The phone app now offers suggested contacts when users begin to type phone numbers, and the Firefox browser lets users save images, audio, and video directly to the handset. The email application has been improved with the ability to save drafts offline, download audio and video attachments, as well as send photo attachments. Other functions that have been improved include the music player, calendar, and keyboard. Mozilla said the update will be made available to developers with Firefox OS phones in the near future. Several handset makers, including LG and ZTE, have committed to releasing Firefox-based smartphones.
ZTE today announced the Nubia 5, a new Android smartphone that it will sell directly to U.S. consumers. The Nubia 5 targets people who put photography first. It includes a Konica-Minolta 13-megapixel main camera with sapphire lens and three shooting modes: Fun, Auto, and Pro. According to ZTE, Fun Mode is for snapshots with filters; Auto Mode includes smile detection and HDR; and Pro Mode adds burst shooting, panorama, and control over focus, lighting, and more. The Nubia 5 also has a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. Other features include a 5-inch full HD screen, 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a 2,300mAh battery. It runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. The Nubia 5 is compatible with GSM/UMTS networks and will be available for preorder from Amazon and other sales channels beginning October 5. It costs $449.99. ZTE also announced that it will sell the Grand S smartphone online for $399.99. The Grand S was announced at CES 2013. It features a 5-inch full HD display; 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM; 13-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera; and 16GB of built-in storage. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Boost Mobile today announced the ZTE Warp 4G, an updated version of last year's phone that includes support for Sprint's LTE 4G network. The Warp 4G runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and includes a 4.5-inch HD display with durable glass; an 8-megapixel main camera and 1-megapixel user-facing camera; dual-core 1.2GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage; and Wi-Fi, GPS, and Stereo Bluetooth 4.0. The Warp has a 2070mAh battery and is preloaded with a number of Boost Mobile apps and services, such as Boost Zone and Mobile ID. The ZTE Warp 4G is available from Boost Mobile's web site for $199.99. Boost Mobile does not require contracts and operates on Sprint's 3G/4G networks.
Virgin Mobile today announced the availability of the ZTE N800 Awe. The Awe is a simple Android 4.1 Jelly Bean smartphone that features a 4-inch WVGA display, 1.2GHz processor with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. The ZTE is powered by a 1,650mAh battery and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. The Awe is limited to 3G mobile broadband speeds and does not support LTE. The ZTE Awe is available online and in select stores for $99.99. Virgin Mobile does not require contracts. Service plans start as low as $35 per month.
Virgin Mobile today announced the Reef, the company's first water-resistant smartphone. The Reef, which is made by ZTE, is certified IPX7, which means it is protected for up to 30 minutes in up to 3 feet of water. The phone has a 4.0 touch display, 1 GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and a 1-megapixel user-facing camera. The device runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and includes Virgin Mobile's ID packs. It runs on Virgin's 3G network and includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The Reef costs $149.99 and does not require a contract.
ZTE today announced that it will offers its Open Firefox OS phone to U.S. consumers via its official eBay store. The phone, which is based on open web standards, will be sold unlocked for $79.99. The ZTE open offers most of the same features found on today's smartphones, including integration with social networks, GPS and navigation through Nokia' HERE maps, and an app store from which to download applications. According to ZTE, the Firefox Marketplace already has a handful of apps from eBay, Kayak, The Weather Channel, SoundCloud, AOL, Wikipedia, and others.
Aio Wireless today announced that the ZTE Overture 4G is now available for sale online and in stores. The Overture, which was announced last month, has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, front-facing camera, LTE, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and costs $149.99. Aio Wireless is a subsidiary of AT&T and offers no-contract wireless service in the U.S.
The U.S International Trade Commission today found that Huawei, Nokia, and ZTE did not violate a patent owned by InterDigital. This was the preliminary decision reached by an administrative law judge. The full ITC will make a final decision on the matter in October. InterDigital is a patent-licensing firm and had sued the companies over intellectual property pertaining to power conservation and messaging in mobile devices. LG was also named in the original suit, but settled with InterDigital. InterDigital was hoping the ITC would block the offending devices from entering the U.S.
U.S. Cellular today announced that the ZTE Imperial will be available online and in stores beginning June 27. The Imperial supports U.S. Cellular's LTE 4G network. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and includes a 4-inch screen with 800 x 480 pixels, 1.2GHz Qualcomm dual-core processor, and a 5-megapixel main camera. The Imperial also offers a front-facing camera for video chats. Other features include Wi-Fi, GPE, and Bluetooth 4.0; 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The ZTE Imperial will cost $0.01 with rebate when paired with a new plan.
Aio Wireless today added LTE 4G to its service offering. Aio Wireless is a subsidiary of AT&T and offers no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network launched in Houston, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Gainesville, Fla., last month and today has expanded to Naples and Ft. Myers, Fla. Aio will gradually become available across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio said that customers who already own LTE-capable equipment will receive an over-the-air update that adds support for Aio's LTE network. In addition to the availability of LTE, Aio also today announced the ZTE Overture, a new Android smartphone that will go one sale in July. The Overture has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, front-facing camera, LTE, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but pricing wasn't disclosed. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
The Vital is an inexpensive phone that's big on features. Phone Scoop spent some time with the device and these are our first impressions.
Sprint today announced the ZTE Vital, a large and inexpensive Android smartphone that features a 5-inch 720p HD display and 13-megapixel camera. The camera includes an LED flash and video capture, and the Vital offers a 1-megapixel user-facing camera, as well. The Vital is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM; it supports Sprint's LTE 4G network and Mobile Hotspot for up to eight devices; and includes NFC, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0+LE, and a 2,500mAh battery. The Vital has 8GB of built-in storage and support for microSD cards up to 64GB. The Vital runs a near-stock version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and includes a number of Sprint apps and services, such as Sprint iD, Sprint Zone, Sprint Music Plus, Sprint TV. It meets the highest criteria for sustainability. The ZTE Vital will be available beginning June 14 through all Sprint's sales channels. It costs $99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year agreement.
Mozilla and Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, confirmed that the two companies will soon launch a mobile device. Mozilla distributed invitations to a press event scheduled for June 3, which is when the two companies are expected to more formally announce their partnership alongside the new device. The device will run Mozilla's Firefox OS, which Mozilla has been developing as an alternative for hardware makers looking to offer something other than Android gear. Mozilla has already scored other hardware partnerships with LG, Huawei, and ZTE. Foxconn is most well known for being the manufacturer of Apple's products.
Powermat today announced that it has merged with PowerKiss. Powermat, based in the U.S., makes and markets wireless charging accessories. It backs the standard supported by the Power Matters Alliance. Before today, PowerKiss, which is based in Finland, backed a competing standard. Now that the two companies are one, they are together throwing their weight behind the PMA wireless charging standard. The PMA is mounting a challenge to competing standards Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power. Earlier this year, the PMA won support from AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, LG, Samsung, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, AT&T mandated that its handset partners incorporate the PMA wireless charging standard into their devices by 2014. Verizon Wireless supports the Qi standard. The consumer electronics industry has yet to settle on a single standard.
ZTE today announced the Grand X2, an Android smartphone that uses Intel's 2.0GHz Z2580 Atom processor with 1GB of RAM. The Grand X2 features a 4.5-inch 720p HD IPS LCD screen that ZTE says measures 0.7mm thick, helping to keep the profile of the device thin. The Grand X2's camera captures 8-megapixel images and can shoot bursts of up to 24 pictures per second, It also includes a flash and face and scene recognition. The user-facing camera is 1 megapixel. The Grand X2 includes 8GB of on-board storage and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. The battery weighs in at 2,000mAh. The Grand X2 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and is expected to go on sale in select markets during the third quarter.
Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, today launched its new, no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network is first available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa, and will gradually expand across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. Data speeds will max out at 4Mbps over AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. One of the first devices offered by Aio is the Nokia Lumia 620 (pictured). The Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone that has a 3.8-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video record, and Nokia-exclusive applications. It costs $179.99 and does not require that customers sign a contract. Aio offers a handful of other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Express for $249.99, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $99.99, the ZTE Prelude for $49.99, and the Apple iPhone 4/4S for prices ranging between $349.99 for refurbished models to $499.99 for new models. Feature phones offered by Aio include the Samsung Denim for $29.99 and the ZTE Atair for $49.99. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
Microsoft has struck another smartphone patent licensing agreement, this time with Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE. Microsoft has similar deals already in place with companies such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Hon Hai, and 20 other companies. Microsoft maintains that its patent portfolio covers certain core technologies that are built into the Android platform. Microsoft is still attempting to get Google's Motorola unit to sign a similar agreement, but has been forced to resort to litigation to do so. Terms of the deal with ZTE were not disclosed.
Geeksphone today announced the availability of two developer phones running Firefox OS. The Keon and Peak were revealed earlier this year and were initially expected to go on sale in February. Both phones run the newest version of Firefox OS (previously known to as Boot-to-Gecko). Firefox OS is an open mobile platform based on Linux and HTML5. It uses web standards to run apps in lieu of a traditional operating system. Mozilla is giving Firefox OS to carriers and handset makers for free as a low-cost alternative to mainstream smartphone platforms. The Keon is an entry-level developer device with a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz processor and 3-megapixel camera. The Peak is a mid-range device with a 4.3-inch qHD display, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, and 8-megapixel camera. The Keon costs $119 and the Peak costs $194. Both ZTE and Alcatel have committed to launching Firefox OS devices this year, and Sprint said it would be interested in selling Firefox OS-based devices when they become available.
The Power Matters Alliance, a group pitching a wireless charging standard that competes with the Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power standards, has recently won new support from handset makers and carriers. The group announced this week that HTC, Huawei, LG, and Samsung have all joined the PMA, which already includes members such as AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, Kyocera, PowerMat, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, existing PMA member AT&T is asking its handset partners to integrate PMA-compatible wireless charging technology into their handsets by 2014. According to the PMA, there are already some 1,500 PMA-certified wireless charging stations at Starbucks coffee shops, airports, and other locations around the country. The Power Matters Alliance uses a wireless charging technology that is slightly different from those offered by Qi and A4WP. Each of the three standards allows devices to charge wirelessly when placed on a compatible charging pad. Verizon's handsets have incorporated Qi for years, which already has wide support from other carriers and handset makers. The electronics industry as a whole has yet to settle on one of the standards for all devices moving forward.
U.S. Cellular today announced the ZTE Director, an entry-level Android smartphone similar to the Fury, which is offered by Sprint. Core features of the Director include a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz processor, 4GB of built-in storage with support for memory cards, and a 3-megapixel camera with video capture. The Director runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and also includes Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi and mobile hotspot. The ZTE is available beginning today from U.S. Cellular's web site, where it costs only a penny.
ZTE today announced the Geek, what it says is the the first ZTE smartphone powered by Intel's new 32nm Atom Z2580 processor. The processor runs at 2.0GHz and is paired with 1GB of RAM. The Geek features a 5-inch 720p HD display, 8-megapixel main camera and 1-megapixel front camera, 8GB of built-in storage, and a 2300mAh battery. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. ZTE didn't say when or where the Geek would become available.
Sprint and Softbank have agreed to unofficial terms requested by the U.S. government with respect to purchasing telecommunications and wireless networking equipment from Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE. Softbank is in the process of acquiring a 70% stake in Sprint, and the agreement is meant to help ease the transaction though the approval process. Government regulators cannot mandate that Sprint and Softbank avoid equipment made by Chinese companies, but lawmakers wanted to make sure they had an ear to the ground when Sprint is purchasing gear. "I have met with SoftBank and Sprint regarding this merger and was assured they would not integrate Huawei in to the Sprint network and would take mitigation efforts to replace Huawei equipment in the Clearwire network," said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The U.S. government is concerned that equipment made by Huawei and ZTE could be used by the Chinese government to spy on the U.S. Huawei flatly denies that its products pose any sort of security risk.
In order to win U.S. government approval of its equity sale to Softbank, Sprint may have to allow government officials to unofficially greenlight networking equipment purchases. According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, the intent of the provision would be to keep Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE from selling their gear to U.S. companies. The U.S. government has long been wary of allowing Huawei and ZTE to provide telecommunications infrastructure due to fears about espionage. Sprint is selling 70% of itself to Japanese network operator Softbank for $20 billion. The Journal notes that any such provisions could not be spelled out explicitly, as that would violate international trade law, and would instead only require Sprint to let the government know when it is making telecommunications gear purchases. A law signed by President Barack Obama last week included a new cyber-espionage review process for U.S. government technology purchases. This law more explicitly states that the U.S. government needs to approve of IT purchases made by NASA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The intent behind this new law is the same as that being applied to the Sprint deal: the government wants to be able to restrict the sale of Chinese networking equipment to U.S. agencies. Huawei spokesperson Bill Plummer said to the Journal, "The adoption of such a policy would seem little more than a market-distorting political or protectionist exercise."