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Qualcomm faces EU probe over radio frequency chips

Qualcomm’s expansion into the radio frequency chip market has drawn the attention of the European Commission’s antitrust regulators, it emerged on Wednesday.

The renewed scrutiny comes after the Commission issued the company with a $242m fine for “engaging in predatory pricing” last July.

Now, just eight months later, the semiconductor giant has revealed it has been hit with a “request for information” relating to concerns it has used its leadership in the modem chip market to advance its position in the radio frequency chip sector.

The market for complex radio frequency front end (RFFE) chips is growing with the roll-out of 5G phones and networks. Qualcomm has sought to capitalise on this by encouraging its modem customers to also buy its RFFE chips.

But, according to a filing submitted by the firm on Wednesday (6 February), the Commission is investigating whether it may have “engaged in anti-competitive behaviour in the European Union”.

“We are in the process of responding,” the company said. “If a violation is found, a broad range of remedies is potentially available to the EC, including imposing a fine (of up to 10 per cent of our annual revenues) and/or injunctive relief prohibiting or restricting certain business practices. It is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or what remedies, if any, may be imposed by the EC.”

Qualcomm added: “We believe that our business practices do not violate the EU competition rules.” The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.