DOJ Probes Verizon, AT&T, GSMA Collusion over eSIM Technology

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The investigation was opened after the Justice Department recieved formal complaints from at least one wireless carrier and one device maker. The eSIM standard lets wireless subscribers move their phone number to a new carrier without having to. AT&T and Verizon face accusations that they colluded with the try to establish standards that would allow them to lock a device to their network even if it had eSIM technology.

It's being reported this afternoon that the Justice Department had reached out to all four major US wireless carriers as part of an antitrust investigation.

Apple, Verizon, and AT&T did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but in a statement to the New York Times, a Verizon spokesperson said the issue was simply, "difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards".

Verizon and AT&T fell on the news. The three companies may have collaborated to make it harder for customers to switch wireless carriers.

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It is unclear as to who might have made the complaint to the US Department of Justice, but tweets from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Eric Newcomer have revealed that Apple could have been the one behind it. He has said the Justice Department will scrutinize potential coordination in standards-setting organizations that can hurt competition. We are striving to provide a better experience for the consumer.

At the same time, the Justice Department is suing AT&T to block its $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner.

The US government has argued in a trial that is nearing completion that the proposed deal would spur AT&T to charge its pay TV rivals more for Time Warner content.

Most mobile phones use SIM cards, which contain unique identifying information about a user and are inserted into the devices so the phones can function.

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Consumer advocates support the idea of an electronic SIM card, which is in the process of being rolled out, since it allows phone owners to bargain hunt and contract with any network or to shift networks easily while traveling, said Feld.

Apple and Samsung have both been pushing the telecom industry to adopt eSIM technology.

The person also said the Justice Department previously examined this matter in 2016, but ended up dropping the investigation.

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