On Friday, Qualcomm Inc obtained a U.S. government licence to sell 4G cell phone chips to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. of China, an exception from U.S. trade sanctions placed in the wake of growing tensions with China.
A Qualcomm spokeswoman told Reuters, “We have obtained a licence for a range of products, including several 4G products.”
Since U.S. trade sanctions took effect, Qualcomm and all other American semiconductor firms were forced to stop exporting to the Chinese technology company in September.
The spokeswoman refused to comment on the individual 4G devices that Qualcomm would sell to Huawei, but said they were mobile-related. Qualcomm has other approvals for licencing with the U.S. government pending, she said.
Huawei has been a comparatively minor chip customer for Qualcomm in the past, and is the main cell phone chip supplier.
In September, Huawei’s ability to design its own chips was hampered by U.S. trade sanctions that restricted its access to software and manufacturing resources for chip design.
Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said there will be a “small impact” on the Qualcomm licence because it only includes 4G chips while users move to newer 5G networks. Rasgon said it is also uncertain if Qualcomm licences for 5G smart phone chips would be issued by U.S. regulators.
Representatives for Huawei and for the United States The Department of Commerce, which issues the permits, did not return requests for comment immediately.
Other U.S. firms, such as Micron Technology Inc, have also been blocked from selling to Huawei and have said they have applied for licences. It also said that Intel Corp has a licence to sell to Huawei.