(Reuters) - Consumer activists and technology experts are advising consumers to hold off on buying Android handsets from China’s ZTE until the company clarifies whether U.S. sanctions against the company prevent it from providing operating system updates for its devices.
The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday banned U.S. companies from providing components, software and other technology to ZTE, saying it was punishing the company for violating the terms of a settlement agreement.
ZTE Corp (0763.HK) (000063.SZ) responded by suspending trading of its shares on Chinese stock markets and delaying an earnings release. But it has provided no guidance to consumers on how the ban will affect its ability to provide updates to the Android operating system from Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google unit.
Sources with two mobile carriers told Reuters on Wednesday that ZTE had yet to advise them as to whether it will be able to keep delivering such updates, which patch security vulnerabilities, add new functionality and improve battery life.
ZTE did not respond to requests for comment and Google declined comment when asked if the order means it can no longer provide Android updates.
Jamie Court, president of Los Angeles-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, called on ZTE, Google and carriers to tell consumers how the ban will impact their ability to service the Chinese company’s phones.
“They certainly shouldn’t be selling new phones if they aren’t sure they can update them,” Court said.