San Francisco: On Friday, Qualcomm Inc obtained a license from the US government to sell 4G mobile chips to Chinese company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, an exemption from US trade restrictions imposed amid rising tensions with China.
“We have received licenses for a number of products, including some 4G products,” a Qualcomm spokeswoman told Reuters.
Qualcomm and all other US semiconductor companies were forced to stop selling to the Chinese tech company in September after the US trade restrictions took effect.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on the specific 4G products Qualcomm could sell to Huawei but said they were related to mobile devices. It said Qualcomm has other licensing applications pending with the US government.
In the past, Huawei was a relatively small chip customer for Qualcomm, which is the largest supplier of mobile chipsets. Huawei has used its home designed chips in its flagship devices but has used Qualcomm chips on its lower priced models.
Huawei’s ability to design its own chips was thwarted in September due to US trade restrictions that prevented its access to chip design software and manufacturing tools.
Industry analysts believe that Huawei’s stock of chips purchased before the ban could run out early next year, crippling its smartphone business.
Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said Qualcomm’s licensing would have a “limited impact” because it only covers 4G chips as consumers switch to newer 5G devices.
Rasgon said it is still unclear whether US officials will grant Qualcomm licenses for 5G smartphone chips.
Representatives of Huawei and the US Commerce Department, which grants the licenses, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other US companies such as Micron Technology Inc have also been banned from selling to Huawei and said they have applied for licenses. Intel Corp. also said it has a license to sell to Huawei.