Union leaders at Communications Workers of America (CWA) have informed telecommunications giant AT&T that the employees who are represented by the union have ratified a contract that had been drawn earlier with AT&T Mobility. Approximately 20,000 workers are covered by the contract which was inked last year in mid-December and these employees are spread across 36 states as well as the District of Columbia.
This comes in the wake of reports indicating that the second largest wireless carrier in the United States has backed off a deal to sell Huawei smartphones. According to sources Huawei had been expected to make an announcement regarding a deal with AT&T at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Third-biggest smartphone maker
Such a deal would have made Huawei the first Chinese smartphone maker to enter into a partnership with a major wireless carrier in the United States. Currently Huawei is the third biggest maker of smartphones in the world behind South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and Cupertino, California-based Apple. In some European countries such as Spain, Italy and Finland, Huawei is the second-largest supplier of smartphones as consumers prefer its lower-cost models to Samsung’s.
Though it was not clear why AT&T backed off the deal it is understood that security reasons played a role. In December last year the U.S. Federal Communications Commission received a letter from a couple of legislators who expressed misgivings concerning the possible partnership between the Chinese smartphone maker and a wireless carrier in the United States. Among the concerns the lawmakers raised were the ties Huawei had with the Chinese government. Though AT&T was not explicitly mentioned in the letter, a potential deal between the carrier and Huawei had been widely publicized.
Currently Huawei sells handsets in the United States but not through carriers and the Chinese firm was hoping the deal with AT&T would have allowed it to compete with premium smartphone offerings from Samsung and Apple with its Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Though Huawei is known for its budget phones, some versions of the Mate 10 cost upwards of $900 when sold without carrier subsidies. Huawei has however maintained that it remains committed to the U.S. market.
“While the Huawei Mate 10 Pro will not be sold by US carriers, we remain committed to this market now and in the future. US customers need a better choice and, as a leader in technology and innovation, Huawei is prepared to fill this need,” said Huawei in a statement after a deal with AT&T fell through.