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

21 April, 2018, 13:54 | Author: Harriet Bell
  • AT&T, Verizon under DoJ antitrust investigation for possible eSIM collusion, report says

The inquiry is also reportedly targeting the GSMA, a wireless trade group.

This investigation, according to today's report, started five months ago after one device maker and wireless carrier filed formal complaints with the DOJ. Instead, the DOJ requested information from all four major US carriers back in February as the agency started an antitrust investigation into the wireless business. "Nothing more", Verizon said.

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". Verizon has denied any wrongdoing.

Verizon told Fox 5 that this is much ado about nothing. Speaking with NYT, a spokesperson for the carrier said that Verizon has been working with the DOJ on a probe over "a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards".

AT&T, which is fighting the Justice Department's efforts to block its takeover of Time Warner Inc., dropped 1.9 percent but recovered to close at $34.67, down 0.4 percent. This makes it easy for consumers to swap between wireless carriers without physically popping the SIM card chip out or contacting their wireless carrier.

AT&T and Time Warner have disputed the claims in court.

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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. For companies like Apple, eSIM technology would free up storage space in devices to use for other technologies like bigger processors and batteries. This would make it impossible for customers to switch carriers and runs counter to the objective of eSIM.

Apple has been including eSIM technology in its iPads for some time now, and began offering it with its Series 3 cellular Apple Watches as well.

"There is a constant problem with industry standards-setting organizations that on the one hand allow the industry to come together for the objective of efficiency but can be very anticompetitive and operate in secrecy", consumer advocate Harold Feld tells the Times.

He previously warned of the potential for "cartel-like behavior" by competitors that got together with standards-setting organizations.

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