Eurobites: EU Gets Its Claws Into Qualcomm (Again)

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange challenges boldly in Belgium; Swisscom's uphill struggle; Deutsche Telekom's love pants.

  • US chipmaker Qualcomm is once again in trouble with the European Commission over what the lawmaking body sees as anti-competitive behavior. As Reuters reports, Qualcomm revealed in a regulatory filing that the Commission had launched an investigation into whether the company's efforts to persuade phone makers to buy its radio frequency chips together with its own modem chips represents an abuse of market position. The Commission could impose a fine equivalent to 10% of annual revenue if it found Qualcomm guilty of the violation. Qualcomm has form in this department, having already coughed up for two antitrust fines from the Commission over the last couple of years. (See Eurobites: Qualcomm May Face EU Antitrust Probe, Qualcomm Vows to Appeal $272M Fine Levied by European Commission and Pinpricks & Big Sticks: An Anatomy of Telco & Tech Fines.)

  • Orange Belgium is declaring itself pleased with its "bold challenger positioning" after posting a year-on-year 5.5% increase in fourth-quarter EBITDAaL (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization after leases), to €79.6 million (US$87.5 million), on revenues that rose 4.8% year on year, to €369.5 million ($406.4 million). Mobile postpaid subscribers increased by 4.5%, to 2.6 million, during the period.

  • Swisscom is still facing an uphill struggle on the domestic front, with falling prices on its home turf helping push full-year group revenue down by 2% in 2019, to 11.45 billion Swiss francs ($11.74 billion). After adjustments for accounting changes and a provision for job cuts, group EBITDA was flat, inching up 0.1%. Things are brighter for Swisscom in Italy, where its Fastweb business saw revenues rise by 5.4%, to €2.22 billion ($2.4 billion) in 2019. (See Eurobites: Fastweb & Wind Tre Join Forces on 5G in Italy.)

  • Nokia says it currently has no plans to cancel its attendance at this year's Mobile World Congress amid concern about the spread of the deadly coronavirus infection, which this week prompted South Korea's LG to withdraw from the show. "At this point in time we can confirm that we do plan to be there but like others we are monitoring the situation carefully and we will put health first and if there is a need to reverse the decision we will do that," said Kristian Pullola, Nokia's chief financial officer, during a phone call with Light Reading. "We have to monitor the developments." The show is facing the risk of a marked fall in attendee numbers, which exceeded 109,000 in 2019, if other leading exhibitors decide to reduce their presence this year.

  • Sweden's Enea has launched its Unified Data Manager, which it describes as a "hardware-agnostic, cloud-native network function for 4G and 5G data management." Click here for more technical details.

  • Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and those lovebirds at Deutsche Telekom have just the thing to ratchet up the romance: connected underwear. This "deliberately ridiculous product" (DT's words, not ours) originally launched last October and apparently sold out quickly. Each package contains two pieces of underwear and two, ahem, "LoveChips" -- Bluetooth transmitters that can, it says here, be "integrated into the underwear" and send a signal to the loved-up German's partner's smartphone, launching a saucy playlist and offering the chance to activate the "do not disturb" function on both their phones. And if that doesn't work just send out for a bucket of Häagen Dazs.

    Connected Pants
    Is that a Bluetooth transmitter in your underwear or are you just pleased to see me?
    Is that a Bluetooth transmitter in your underwear or are you just pleased to see me?

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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