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EC probe on Qualcomm's sales practices opens

Posted: 21 Jul 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm? LTE? 4G? 3G? tablet?

The European Commission (EC) has started two antitrust investigations into the behaviour of Qualcomm as regards its market dominance of semiconductors used in consumer electronics. The first investigation by the administrative and executive body of the 28-nation European Union (EU) about the baseband chips for 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) used for cellular communications in smartphones and tablet computers and will probe whether Qualcomm has offered financial incentives to customers on condition that they buy baseband chipsets exclusively or almost exclusively from Qualcomm.

The second will look into whether Qualcomm engaged in 'predatory pricing' with regard to certain chipsets that comply with 3G (UMTS) standards by setting prices below costs with a view to forcing competition out of the market.

The European Union Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "We are launching these investigations because we want to be sure that high tech suppliers can compete on the merits of their products. Many customers use electronic devices such as a mobile phone or a tablet and we want to ensure that they ultimately get value for money."

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct and investigations in the past of Intel and Microsoft took many years to come to a conclusion.

In April 2015 the European Commission announced that it had found Google had a case to answer with regard to an abuse of its dominant position in general Internet search services. It said it had sent a "Statement of Objections" to Google, the first step towards antitrust legal action, which could cost Google up to 10 per cent of its annual revenues in a fine.

That would be about $6.6 billion based on Google's 2014 revenue of $66 billion. For its fiscal 2014 Qualcomm reported revenue of $26.5 billion.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times Europe

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