Huawei hits the highway as Volkswagen signs to put 4G in 30 million vehicles

A sport of patent revenue comes in handy when faced with US sanctions and 5G bans


Huawei has announced that its wireless tech is going into 30 million Volkswagen vehicles, thanks to a deal with an unnamed supplier .

The agreement is Huawei’s largest automotive licensing deal to date. According to Huawei’s canned statementissued Wednesday, the agreement includes a licence of Huawei’s 4G standard essential patents, covering Volkswagen vehicles equipped with wireless tech.

Huawei’s chief legal officer, Song Liuping, pointed out the Chinese tech company holds most of the patents used in wireless tech — a situation that could be a saving grace for a company severely constrained by US sanctions.

“As an innovative company, we own a leading patent portfolio for wireless technologies, which creates great value for the automotive industry. We are pleased that key players from the automotive industry recognize that value. We believe this licence will benefit worldwide consumers with our advanced technology,” said Song.

Volkswagen confirmed the deal, but avoided names and specifics. The German automaker’s statement read:

We welcome that a leading ICT (Information Communication Technology) company has granted one of our suppliers a licence to standard-essential mobile communications patents.

This licensing in the supply chain is a model of how the increasingly close cooperation between the mobility industry and the information and communications industry can succeed.

While neither Volkswagen nor Huawei have named the anonymous supplier, South China Morning Post has pointed its finger at Luxembourg-based Rolling Wireless, a leading supplier of automobile 4G and 5G network access devices.

Wireless tech has become a vital technology for tech-heavy modern day automobiles as they add features like smart door locks, infotainment systems, driver assistance and positioning.

Volkswagen announced in February that it would create a “new automotive cloud” on Microsoft Azure. Its focus will be on driver services including media, connection with home and office, and predictive maintenance.

Huawei’s decision to support 4G – alongside Volkswagen’s choice to implement it – reiterates the view that automobiles lag behind other tech in design cycles and technology. It demonstrates that the car industry is in a position to connect consumers, without technologies like edge computing and vehicle-to-everything equipment that require faster 5G being yet mainstream.

Technologies requiring 5G for automobiles are on the horizon, but it’s a distant horizon. For instance, Hyundai and Singapore’s dominant telecommunications company Singtel announced a venture last March to build 5G-connected smart factories, but its reality remains in the future.

Huawei’s 2020 financials revealed it relied on domestic buying power in the face of US-led sanctions and a global pandemic. A 3.8 per cent hike in overall sales for the year was due to growth in China alone, as declines were confirmed in all other regions.

Smartphone market share for the Chinese tech manufacturer fell to four per cent in Q1 2021, from 18 per cent in Q1 2020. ®

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