Huawei Is Said to Fail to Get AT&T to Sell Its Phones in U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. has failed to strike a deal for AT&T Inc. to sell its flagship phones to American consumers, a setback for China’s top mobile-phone maker, which was expected to unveil a partnership with a U.S. carrier as early as this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Even without an immediate partner that would help it officially enter the U.S. market, Huawei will still sell a version of its new Mate 10 Pro smartphone that is unlocked and not tied to a specific carrier, according to a person familiar with the company, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

Huawei and Xiaomi Corp., another leading Chinese handset maker, have been negotiating with carriers including AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. to bring their popular phones to the U.S. market, people familiar with the companies said last month.

The U.S. mobile-phone market is dominated by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Since most phones are purchased through carriers, it’s almost impossible for a manufacturer to gain serious market share without support from AT&T or Verizon, the two largest U.S. wireless networks.

“Over the past five years Huawei has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the U.S. market," a spokesman for Huawei told Bloomberg News on Monday. “On Tuesday Huawei will introduce new products to the U.S. market, including availability. We look forward to sharing more information with you then.”

AT&T declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that AT&T walked away from a deal to sell Huawei phones.

Without AT&T, Huawei can still try to forge deals with Verizon and the other carriers. Huawei already tried selling its flagship Mate 9 phone in the U.S. via e-commerce websites like Inc., but working directly with wireless partners would give China’s No. 1 phone maker a wider presence across the U.S. through retail stores, carrier websites and TV commercials.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.