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For a while now the US has had problems persuading its allies not to use Huawei equipment in their 5G networks. US diplomats have been touring the world warning other countries that if they do use the Chinese company's equipment they run the risk of being spied on by Beijing. That's all very well, comes the response, but who do you suggest we use instead? Huawei is by far the world's biggest and cheapest supplier of 5G equipment. And there isn't a single US company that can compete on the product range or the prices being offered.
Almost everybody I've spoken to in the Trump administration over the last few months has mentioned this as a serious problem. And it's clear that discussions are under way to try and rectify it.
But what can be done to try and create some kind of US or western competitor to the Chinese company? One option that's been explored is to ask big companies like Oracle and Cisco, which already make much of the servers and the routers behind 5G networks, to see if they want to move into the radio communications market as well. However, the response has come back that such a project would simply be too costly and too time-consuming.
Another option is to fund American start-ups that are working on the next generation of technology that might be able to supersede what Huawei does. That's all very well, but that is also likely to be a multi-year project.
One intriguing suggestion for the near-term is that the US could funnel money towards Huawei's major competitors, even though their two biggest competitors, Nokia and Ericsson, are European and not American. That would be highly unusual, but it shows how seriously Trump officials are taking the threat of this Chinese company.