Huawei license expires in US, Google Android updates in trouble

The temporary general license that allowed Google to work with Chinese giant Huawei on maintaining smartphones has expired in the US, threatening to kill Android updates for the current devices.

The Washington Post reported the license expiry will spell trouble for rural telecom companies and Huawei phone users in the US and “expiration means some wireless networks and phones won’t receive software updates.”

The reprieve by US President Donald Trump allowed US companies to do business with the Chinese tech giant labeled as a “security threat”.

In an email, the US Commerce Department confirmed that the license has expired.

It said the license had provided “an opportunity for users of Huawei devices and telecommunications providers to continue to temporarily operate such devices and existing networks while hastening the transition to alternative suppliers”.

A Huawei spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company is “monitoring the situation and assessing the potential impact.”

Under the terms of the previous US trade ban, Google was barred from selling Android licenses to Huawei, meaning its phones could use the base open-source code, but would not have access to the all-important Play Store and Google apps.

A temporary license was issued last year which allowed Google to support and update the Android OS running on existing Huawei devices.

The trade ban also affected the development of future products. Huawei is working on its own operating system HarmonyOS but that is far from reality.

Huawei has admitted the US sanctions were hurting it badly, especially the absence of Google’s core Android software, Play Store and popular apps like Search and Maps on its devices.

The expiration of the license means that Google will not be able to send software updates to Huawei cell phones, which run on Google’s Android operating system.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also designated Chinese telecom companies, Huawei and ZTE, as national security risks to America’s communications networks.

The UK government last month announced a ban on the purchase of new Huawei kits for 5G from next year and said that the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment will be completely removed from 5G networks by the end of 2027.