Intel Points Finger at Qualcomm Over Modem Market Demise

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Intel claimed in a blog post today that Qualcomm’s anti-competitive behavior denied it opportunities in the modem market.

The post, written by Steven Rodgers, Intel EVP and general counsel, revealed that Intel today filed an amicus brief against Qualcomm’s appeal of the judicial ruling given in May against Qualcomm by the United States District Court, Northern District of California. The ruling said Qualcomm's licensing practices had "strangled competition in the CDMA and premium LTE modem chip markets for years and harmed rivals, OEMs and end consumers.”  

"Intel suffered the brunt of Qualcomm’s anticompetitive behavior, was denied opportunities in the modem market, was prevented from making sales to customers and was forced to sell at prices artificially skewed by Qualcomm," Rodgers wrote. 

Intel participated in FTC's antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm, and in April had to exit the 5G modem market once Apple made a deal with Qualcomm. Although, one could argue that Intel never had much of a 5G modem business to begin with if the survival of the division rested entirely on having Apple as a customer.

Rodgers also said that Intel invested billions of dollars and bought two companies over a decade to build a profitable modem chip business, but despite that, it was unable to fight Qualcomm’s "anti-competitive: schemes.

One of these schemes has been called the “no license, no chips” policy, where Qualcomm wouldn’t sell customers any chips unless they also agreed to enter a patent licensing agreement with Qualcomm on its own terms. 

"These onerous, one-sided terms enable Qualcomm to artificially lower the price of its modems while simultaneously inflating customers’ costs of using modem chips manufactured by competitors, like Intel, by charging royalties as large as the price of the modems themselves," Rodgers said. 

Intel's Rodgers argued for support for FTC's ruling with claimed hopes of helping everyone benefit from fair competition in wireless technology, especially with 5G on the rise. 

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.