United States investigating AT&T and Verizon over claims of wireless collusion

AT&T, Verizon under DoJ antitrust investigation for possible eSIM collusion, report says

The New York Times reported Friday that GSMA, Verizon and AT&T were being investigated for possible collusion for making it more hard for consumers to easily switch wireless carriers.

eSim technology allows users to switch wireless carriers without need to insert a physical SIM card into a new device.

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".

The Justice Department sent demands to AT&T, Verizon and the GSMA, an industry standards-setting group, on efforts to thwart eSIM.

The sources further claimed that the agency launched its investigation five months ago after receiving tips from a wireless carrier and at least one device maker.

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The investigation comes as the Justice Department is suing AT&T to block its $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

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Locking phones to a certain network is a common practice among cellular providers that makes it a hassle for consumers to switch to a new provider.

Verizon did respond to the matter, saying that it was all "much ado about nothing".

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.

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We are aware of the investigation into GSMA's process for developing eSIM standards that provide a better experience for consumers.

The technology which has the capacity of making the carrier's business more faster is the issue.

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. For companies like Apple, eSIM technology would free up storage space in devices to use for other technologies like bigger processors and batteries.

"The actions would limit choice for consumers and harm competition", said Ferras Vinh, a policy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"There is a constant problem with industry standards-setting organizations that on the one hand allow the industry to come together for the goal of efficiency but can be very anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said.

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