US Said to Investigate AT&T and Verizon Over Wireless Collusion Claim

21 April, 2018, 05:31 | Author: Devin Moran
  • The GSMA Mobile World Congress representing the int

According to a new report from the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting an antitrust investigation into AT&T, Verizon and the GSMA about possible collusion over eSIM technology.

The agency in February sent civil investigative demands to major US wireless carriers and the GSMA, an worldwide standards organization responsible for eSIM technology, the people said.

Unlike traditional SIM cards, which are typically carrier specific, eSIM would let mobile customers switch between the major carriers simply by changing software, according to Moffett.

The DOJ is specifically looking into how AT&T and Verizon worked with GSMA - as recently as this year - to establish standards that would lock eSIM phones to a network.

The report notes that the two carriers handle about 70% of U.S. wireless customers, and that the eSIM tech makes it easier to switch carriers.

Anonymous sources told the NYT that official complaints were filed roughly five months ago, and two months ago the DOJ issued demands to AT&T, Verizon, and the GSMA.

Apple Inc, a pioneer in the eSIM technology that makes switching easier, was joined by other equipment makers in complaining to the government about the carriers' practices, two other people with knowledge of the matter said. "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".

The reports about the investigation come as AT&T completed the fifth week of an antitrust trial brought by the US The Justice Department's antitrust division sued to block AT&T's US$85 billion acquisition of Time Warner because it would give the combined companies too much negotiation leverage and increase TV prices for consumers.

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. The latter is a trade group that represents the interests of mobile carriers. This would make it impossible for customers to switch carriers and runs counter to the objective of eSIM.

AT&T and Verizon together control about 70 percent of all wireless subscriptions in the United States.



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