$400B China-Iran Deal Includes a $Billion 4G-5G Network, Most Likely Huawei

December 6, 2021

China has agreed to buy $16 billion/year of Iranian oil in what amounts to a barter arrangement for Chinese goods. Telecommunications is specifically included, with a $billion or more for an upgraded mobile system. Huawei & ZTE will probably split the contract.

Iran’s population is 84 million, about the same as Germany or Turkey. That’s as much as Ireland, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands combined. Nothing’s announced, but it will be a big deal.

Meng Wanzhou is under house arrest in Canada, nominally for misleading a bank about Huawei trade with Iran. It turns out that communications equipment is specifically excluded from the Iran blockade. Nokia has long been active in Iran, and Samsung is the leading phone brand.

Despite the blockade, Iran remains an advanced industrial economy that exports steel and has nuclear engineering capabilities. When the political storms clear, I expect Huawei will do important research in the country.

Many top wireless engineers come from Iran, such as Caltech Professor Babak Hassibi, who worked with legendary Stanford Professor Thomas Kailath. A friend who teaches at Stanford tells me Sharif University in Tehran has been sending him outstanding graduate students. Sharif Professor Mohammad Fakharzadeh has published over 75 papers in communications.

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