Qualcomm faces fresh competition scrutiny in Europe over RFFE chips for 5G – TechCrunch
Qualcomm is dealing with fresh antitrust scrutiny from the European Commission, with the regulator elevating questions on radio frequency front-end (RFFE) chips which can be utilized in 5G gadgets.
The chipmaker has been increasing into promoting RFFE chips for 5G gadgets, per Reuters, encouraging patrons of its 5G modems to additionally purchase its radio frequency front-end chips, quite than shopping for from different distributors and integrating their with its 5G modem chips.
A European Commission spokeswomen confirmed the motion, telling us: “We can confirm that the Commission has sent out questionnaires, as part of a preliminary investigation into the market for radio frequency front end.”
We’ve reached out to Qualcomm for remark.
The chipmaker disclosed the exercise in its 10Q investor submitting — the place it writes that the regulator wrote to request info in early December: “notifying us that it is investigating whether we engaged in anti-competitive behavior in the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) by leveraging our market position in 5G baseband processors in the RFFE space”.
Qualcomm says it’s in the method of responding to the request for info.
It’s not but clear whether or not the investigation will transfer to a proper footing in future. “Our preliminary investigation is ongoing. We cannot comment on or predict its timing or outcome,” the EC spokeswoman instructed us.
“It is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or what remedies, if any, may be imposed by the EC,” Qualcomm additionally writes in the investor submitting, including: “We believe that our business practices do not violate the EU competition rules.”
If a violation is discovered it additionally warns buyers that the EC has the ability to impose a wonderful of as much as 10% of its annual revenues, and will additionally problem injunctive reduction that prohibits or restricts sure enterprise practices.
The preliminary probe of Qualcomm’s 5G modem enterprise is under no circumstances the primary antitrust motion the chip big has confronted in Europe.
Last summer time Europe’s competition fee fined Qualcomm near $270M — following a long-running antitrust investigation into whether or not it used predatory pricing when promoting UMTS baseband chips, with the regulator concluding Qualcomm had used predatory pricing to power a competitor out of the market.
Two years in the past the Commission additionally fined the chipmaker a full $1.23BN in one other antitrust case associated to its dominance in LTE chipsets for smartphones, and particularly associated to its relationship with iPhone maker, Apple.
In each instances Qualcomm is interesting the choices.
It can also be battling a serious competition case on its house turf: In 2017 the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed fees towards Qualcomm — accusing it of utilizing anticompetitive ways in an try to take care of a monopoly in its chip enterprise.
Last 12 months a US courtroom sided with the FTC, agreeing the chip big had violated antitrust regulation — and warning that such habits would doubtless proceed, given Qualcomm’s key function in making modems for next-gen 5G mobile tech. But, once more, Qualcomm has appealed — and the authorized course of is continuous, with a choice on the attraction attainable this 12 months.
Its investor submitting notes it was granted a movement to expedite the attraction towards the FTC in July — with a listening to scheduled for February 13, 2020.
Most lately, in August, the chipmaker received a partial keep towards an earlier courtroom resolution that had required it to grant patent licenses to rivals and finish its observe of requiring its chip clients signal a patent license earlier than buying chips.
“We will continue to vigorously defend ourself in the foregoing matters. However, litigation and investigations are inherently uncertain, and we face difficulties in evaluating or estimating likely outcomes or ranges of possible loss in antitrust and trade regulation investigations in particular,” Qualcomm provides.