EU investigates Qualcomm over radio-frequency chips – Hardware

Qualcomm on Wednesday thorough the first major income gains from a new classification of chip it is providing to cell cell phone makers, but also disclosed that an antitrust investigation has started out all over those people chips.

The European Union is investigating irrespective of whether Qualcomm engaged in anti-competitive conduct by leveraging its current market placement in 5G modem chips in the radio frequency chip current market, the San Diego business explained on Wednesday in a regulatory submitting.

The disclosure arrives just after the business used decades battling regulators – and compensated billions of dollars in fines – more than allegations that it engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Qualcomm past year shed a scenario brought by the US Federal Trade Fee and stays locked in an attraction.

Qualcomm materials “modem” chips, also occasionally referred to as baseband processors, that connect cell phones to wireless info networks.

But the business is also increasing into a connected field referred to as radio frequency front-stop chips, which have become more complicated in phones that use 5G networks.

Qualcomm has been seeking to persuade cell phone makers to purchase its radio frequency chips, together with its have modem chips, fairly than choosing sections from separate distributors and integrating them.

Other main suppliers of radio frequency chips are Broadcom, Skyworks Answers and Qorvo.

Qualcomm executives explained on Wednesday that earnings from the radio frequency current market contributed to a income forecast that beat analyst anticipations.

In Wednesday’s submitting, Qualcomm explained it was in the process of responding to a probe by the European Fee, the EU’s government branch, just after it served a ask for for information and facts with the business on December 3.

Qualcomm explained the fee could impose a wonderful of up to ten percent of its once-a-year earnings if a violation were being identified.

Qualcomm was fined 242 million euros by the European Fee in July past year for blocking a rival from the current market about a ten years back, its 2nd EU antitrust penalty.

The Fee had also fined Qualcomm 997 million euros all through 2018 for paying Iphone maker Apple to use only its chips, a tactic aimed at thwarting rivals such as Intel.

Qualcomm has gained radio frequency chip contracts with Samsung Electronics, Google and LG Electronics, between other individuals.

Analysts explained the EU investigation was unlikely to sluggish Qualcomm’s development in the radio frequency chip current market.

“Qualcomm has been penalized a lot of instances for anti-competitive practices. It truly is a single of the pitfalls of the tale,” explained Chaim Siegel, an analyst at Elazar Advisors. “They have current market clout mainly because their technological know-how is a lot better than the level of competition.”