US said to be investigating AT&T, Verizon over collusion claim

22 April, 2018, 01:48 | Author: Sherri Guerrero
  • Department of Justice

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation, the DoJ started its investigation into the topic in February after receiving complaints on the topic from at least one device maker and one wireless operator. The newspaper cites six people with knowledge of the inquiry and alleges the wireless carriers worked in coordination to make it more hard for people to switch carriers. The Justice Department declined to comment on the matter to the NYT.

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 development of the latest version of the specification is on hold pending the completion of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice", GSMA said in a statement.

Verizon and AT&T acknowledged the government probe and said they were working with regulators.

"[There seems to be] a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards".

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Verizon told Fox 5 that this is much ado about nothing. The main benefit of eSIM technology is consumer freedom, which is exactly why certain telecommunication carriers have allegedly sought to block its adoption.

"In the context of antitrust and I.P., we will be inclined to investigate and enforce when we see evidence of collusive conduct undertaken for the goal of fixing prices, or excluding particular competitors or products", Mr. Delrahim said in a speech this month at a conference in Washington.

AT&T is already locked in a legal battle with the Justice Department over its plan to acquire Time Warner. He has said the Justice Department will scrutinize potential coordination in standards-setting organizations that can hurt competition.

"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. Read the NY Times report here.

News of the probe comes at a critical time for AT&T which is being sued by the Justice Department to stop its deal to buy media company Time Warner Inc (TWX.N). Despite eSIM's obvious advantages, it has yet to achieve any significant presence in the market, with only a few notable devices having adopted it so far, such as Google's Pixel 2 and the Apple Watch 3.

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