AT&T, Verizon Under Investigation Over Alleged eSIM Collusion

21 April, 2018, 13:56 | Author: Tracy Craig
  • AT&T, Verizon under DoJ antitrust investigation for possible eSIM collusion, report says

The New York Times today reported that the Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into the two largest US carriers, as well as the GSMA trade group responsible for setting cellular standards.

Officials requested in February that the three entities facing investigation turn over information related to purported efforts to undermine eSim, a technology that allows consumers to switch their phone numbers from one carrier to another easily.

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.

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 probe began after a device maker, identified in the Times report as Apple, and a separate wireless carrier filed a formal complaint.

In a statement, a Verizon spokesman confirmed that the carrier had been working with the Justice Department for several months on the inquiry because of "a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards". "False ring tones also create a misleading impression that a caller's service provider is not responsible if the call fails", explains the FCC order. Under eSIM, user identification technology of a traditional SIM card is instead transferred to the device's processor or modem itself.

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Verizon told Fox 5 that this is much ado about nothing.

CNN's video below covers why the AT&T Time Warner trial matters. It would also make it easier for people to use their devices while traveling for business. This would make it impossible for customers to switch carriers and runs counter to the objective of eSIM.

The person briefed on the matter said the Obama administration had investigated similar claims in 2016 but did not take any action.

One source told the paper that the investigation could also include other top USA carriers. The department issued demands to the companies and the GSMA, a mobile industry standards group, for information on possible collusion, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter isn't public.

"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 anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said.


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