After the FTC rested its case against Qualcomm’s antitrust business practices on Tuesday, Qualcomm has now presented its defense in the court. It came out all guns blazing in its defense and got company co-founder Irwin Jacobs and SVP of 4G and 5G operations, Durga Malladi, to highlight its inventions in the wireless technology space.
Qualcomm said it never forced companies to choose its chips and they went with its offerings because they were the best. It also highlighted the fact that despite having licensing issues, it never stopped supplying modem/baseband to any of its customers.
During his testimony, Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm and a pioneer of key wireless technologies, said that Qualcomm decided to license its CDMA technology to other companies to get more funding for research and development. AT&T was the first company to license its CDMA technology, followed by Motorola, Nokia, and others. Qualcomm charged them an upfront fee and then royalties based on sales of their CDMA devices.
“Everything was negotiated,” Jacobs said. “We [wanted] something low enough that it did not impede progress should this become a commercial product. We wanted to see this used as broadly as possible worldwide.”
Jacobs further said that it was the CDMA technology that eventually allowed 3G networks to also start delivering data to smartphones.
“The industry began to realize it was important to provide mobile internet access, data communications,” Jacobs testified. “Essentially all third generation [network technology] is based on CDMA.”
There’s no denying the fact that Qualcomm has done a lot to advance wireless technologies. As of March 2018, Qualcomm was the only company capable enough of manufacturing a millimeter wave 5G network modem. The technology offers 5G speeds to travel across trees and walls which otherwise they would fail to do.
Without Qualcomm, the mobile industry would not have advanced as much as it has done today. But one also wonders if its licensing practices have caused the entire mobile industry a lot of harm or not.