U.S. investigating AT&T and Verizon over eSIM collusion

Mae Love
April 21, 2018

eSIM is a technology that eliminates the need for a physical SIM card, which has traditionally been needed to switch carriers. eSIM allows carriers to switch carriers remotely without the need to purchase a new SIM card. "Along with other GSMA members, we have provided information to the government in response to their requests and will continue to work proactively within GSMA, including with those who might disagree with the proposed standards, to move this issue forward". This would make it impossible for customers to switch carriers and runs counter to the goal of eSIM.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying in an email that "as a matter of policy, the Department of Justice does not confirm, deny, or otherwise comment, on the existence or nonexistence of investigations". The three companies may have collaborated to make it harder for customers to switch wireless carriers.

AT&T and Verizon face accusations that they worked with the industry group G.S.M.A.to create standards that would allow them to lock phones to their network despite having the eSIM technology, according to the New York Times.

Verizon spokesman Rich Young said in an emailed statement that the matter is "a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of e-SIM standards".

Verizon and AT&T fell on the news.

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Shares of AT&T dropped Friday after the New York Times reported the Department of Justice opened a, anti-trust investigation into coordination by the carriers to "hinder consumers from easily switching wireless carriers".

Apple Technology Apple rolled out the technology with some of its latest iPad models in 2016, but has thus far not introduced it in smartphones. Verizon doesn't support it at all.

"I am very happy that the DOJ is taking its job as a cop on the beat very seriously", said Feld.

News of the investigation comes as AT&T is already fighting the Justice Department in court over its blockbuster deal to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

Observers of the trial say AT&T appears to have an advantage after exposing weaknesses in the government's pricing power claims.

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