Ericsson defended its patent licensing practices after Chinese authorities launched an investigation following complaints from unnamed sources.
In a statement to Mobile World Live, an Ericsson representative confirmed China’s State Administration for Market Regulation formally initiated a probe, and said the company is “fully cooperating with the investigation”.
The representative added Ericsson has “always been committed” to licensing its technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, but declined to comment further on the investigation.
Chinese officials raided Ericsson’s office in Beijing on 12 April, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The country is Ericsson’s second largest market in terms of sales behind the US, accounting for 7 per cent of net sales in 2018.
Ericsson isn’t the first technology vendor to face scrutiny for its licensing practices in China. In 2015, Qualcomm agreed to pay $975 million in fines and reduce the amount of royalties it charges, after China’s National Development and Reform Commission found it had violated the country’s anti-monopoly law.
However, the Ericsson probe comes as countries around the globe engage in a heated race to be the first to reap the benefits of 5G. Ericsson is a major supplier of 5G-enabled equipment and technology, going head-to-head with Huawei, Nokia and, increasingly, Samsung.
Ericsson has been trialling 5G network technology with Chinese operators and in February inked a 5G patent licensing deal with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo.
GSMA Intelligence noted China’s 5G strategy is backed by a series of government policies and initiatives, including a Made in China 2025 plan and the country’s 13th Five Year Plan, which calls for the launch of commercial 5G service by 2020.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back