Taiwanese telecoms yesterday said that they would stop selling new smartphones made by Huawei Technologies Co (華為) due to security concerns and uncertainty surrounding Google’s withdrawal of Android and app updates for devices made by the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand.
The announcements came after Japanese telecoms Softbank Corp and KDDI Corp postponed their rollouts of Huawei’s latest mid-range model, the Huawei P30 Lite, which was scheduled to hit stores on Saturday.
Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), which is 35 percent owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, was the first local telecom to vow not to sell Huawei’s new phones.
“The company will continue selling existing Huawei models, but has decided not to sell Huawei’s new phones at this stage,” Chunghwa Telecom said.
Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), the nation’s second-largest telecom, followed suit.
“As Huawei’s new mobile phones will not support Google services, the company will stop selling new phones from Huawei,” the company said in a statement.
However, Taiwan Mobile called on the government to offer clear guidance about which smartphones pose a national security threat.
Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) and Asia Pacific Telecom Co (亞太電信) said that existing Huawei handsets would remain available.
Consumers could still buy Huawei’s other P30-series phones from major telecoms, companies said.
Google has said that it would comply with US President Donald Trump’s order to stop supplying services to Huawei, meaning that current owners of Huawei phones face being cut off from updates of the Android operating system from late August.
New phones would also lose access to popular apps such as YouTube and Chrome.
Separately, Singaporean start-up Circles.Life said that it is to enter Taiwan’s telecom market next month by offering tailored-made mobile services without any contracts.
With the unconventional business model, the latecomer is attempting to subvert existing telecoms’ way of doing business.
Telecoms in Taiwan and around the world subsidize handsets or electronics in exchange for a multiyear service contract with a fixed monthly charge.
In two short videos posted on YouTube last week, Circles.Life called on mobile users to protest against such conventional practices and break down the existing framework, as obscure contracts only provide rigid telecom services and usually carry hidden charges.
Based on Circles.Life’s tally posted on Facebook yesterday, 15,194 people have signed up to support the protest.
The company said that it is to disclose its service packages and tariffs on June 18 when its local branch, Circles Taiwan Pte Ltd (星圓通訊), is to start operations.
Circles.Life has tapped telecom veteran Lin Wei-wen (林偉文) to lead Circles Taiwan, according to the company’s registration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The National Communications Commission yesterday confirmed that Circles Taiwan has submitted an application to the commission seeking a license to provide mobile services as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
Unlike the nation’s big three telecoms, MVNOs do not have to deploy their own wireless network, but provide voice services and Internet connection on a leased network.
Circles Taiwan is reportedly to team up with Chunghwa Telecom to build its local presence, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported.
Chunghwa Telecom did not reply to a request for comment.
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