By Kim Yoo-chul
Korea slapped a record fine of 260 billion won or some $208 million on U.S. wireless chip and technology supplier Qualcomm Thursday over unfair business practices.
The Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the anti-trust watchdog, said that the U.S. chipmaker had used its market dominance to maintain a virtual monopoly for CDMA-based mobile phone chips.
The fine is the biggest ever imposed by the agency. In 2005, the FTC levied a 113-billion-won fine on fixed-line telecommunication giant KT.
Qualcomm officials in Korea were not immediately available but it is widely expected that it won't pay the fine without a fight.
CDMA ― or code division multiple access ― is the most widely used mobile technology in Korea, allowing phone users to cram more calls and information across limited bandwidths.
Qualcomm owns critical key patents for the system, reaping huge royalties from Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.
Qualcomm's CDMA market share in Korea was tallied at 99.4 percent last year.