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Qualcomm touts deal with Chinese giants to really consider using $12bn of its chips

Non-binding 'memorandum of understanding' inked with four smartphone builders

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Qualcomm says it has struck a deal, of sorts, with four major smartphone vendors in China that could possibly be worth $12bn.

Emphasis on the "possibly".

The chip designer says the non-binding 'memorandum of understanding' agreements will bring Xiaomi, Guangdong OPPO, and Vivo Communications to the table in an attempt to hammer out licensing deals to use Qualcomm chips in its mobile phone designs.

The announcement was made as part of President Trump's visit to China, where Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf attended as part of the White House trade delegation tagging along for the trip.

"I’m honored to represent Qualcomm as part of this important trade delegation, which showcases the importance of win-win business relationships between the US and China,” Mollenkopf said of the memo.

"Qualcomm has longstanding relationships with Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo and we are continuing our commitment to investing and helping advance China’s mobile and semiconductor industries."

The deal would potentially be a boon for Qualcomm in a country where it has had trouble with both customers and government officials in the past. Qualcomm has struggled for years to extract the patent fees it believes Chinese electronics companies had owed for using its designs, though more recently it has touted progress in collecting some of what it feels it's due.

Qualcomm's dealings with China have also earned it some unwanted attention from the US Securities and Exchange Comission over allegations of corruption.

Elsewhere in Qualcomm's affairs, a deal with T-Mobile USA will use the chip designer's hardware to power an expansion to its cellular network hardware that the firms say will manage gigabit speeds on current LTE networks.

The two companies say the rollout, covering 430 metro areas around the US, will help to provide a bridge between current LTE networks and the planned 5G network upgrades coming onstream. ®

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