LG’s plans to launch and release 5G phones in 2019 are under serious threat because of an ongoing spat with chip supplier Qualcomm.
LG announced the LG V50 ThinQ at Mobile World Congress back in February, the first in the company’s history to pack a 5G modem. It is currently offering being offered for sale via the Sprint network in the United States, but that could soon be a thing of the past.
A Reuters report says LG has failed to renew its chip licensing deal with the maker of the X50 modem powering most of the first-generation 5G handsets, as well as the V50 ThinQ scheduled for release on EE in the UK later this year.
Court filings in California explain the nature of the spat. They show that LG stood against Qualcomm’s efforts to set aside a US antitrust decision when negotiating a renewed deal. The company believes that if the decision is not taken into consideration, it will have to sign a deal on Qualcomm’s unfavourable terms.
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“If Qualcomm does not participate in negotiations with LGE in accordance with the Court’s Order, LGE will have no option but to conclude license and chipset supply agreements once again on Qualcomm’s terms,” LG’s filing said.
This follows a sweeping antitrust ruling against Qualcomm which said the chipmaker was holding manufacturers hostage with “onerous” fees to use its patents.
The judge in the case, who has presided over many of tech’s most illustrious trade disputes, is Lucy Koh. She ordered Qualcomm to agree to licensing deals without these fees attached, and that’s what LG wants to see carried out.
If LG can’t agree the new deal with Qualcomm then its options to replace the X50 modem are severely limited. Intel recently bowed out of the race, while there are difficult issues to consider when it comes to Huawei’s Ballong 5G modem too.