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A long-running European antitrust investigation into whether Qualcomm used predatory pricing when selling UMTS baseband chips about a decade ago has landed the chipmaker with a fine of €242 million (~$271M) — aka, 1.27% of its global revenue for 2018.
The EU regulator concluded Qualcomm used abusive pricing to force its main rival at the time, UK-based company Icera, out of the market — by selling certain quantities of three of its UMTS chipsets below cost to two strategically important customers: Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE.
Decision - Statement - Competition - Commissioner - Margrethe
Commenting on the decision in a statement, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said: “Baseband chipsets are key components so mobile devices can connect to the Internet. Qualcomm sold these products at a price below cost to key customers with the intention of eliminating a competitor. Qualcomm’s strategic behaviour prevented competition and innovation in this market, and limited the choice available to consumers in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies. Since this is illegal under EU antitrust rules, we have today fined Qualcomm €242M.“
Qualcomm has come out fighting in response — dismissing what it dubs as the Commission’s “novel theory” and saying it plans to appeal.
Guarantee - Lieu - Fine - Appeal
It also says it will provide a financial guarantee in lieu of paying the fine while this appeal is pending.
The case — which was triggered by a complaint filed by Icera — dates back to 2015, and relates to Qualcomm business practices between 2009 and 2011. The baseband chipsets in question were used over the period for connecting smartphones and tablets to cellular networks, including 3G networks, and for both for voice and data transmission.
Commission - Icera - Data - Rate - Performance
The Commission says Icera had been offering advanced data rate performance vs Qualcomm’s chipsets, thereby posing a threat to the latter’s business.
The EU regulator found Qualcomm held a dominant position in the global...
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