United States said to investigate AT&T, Verizon over wireless collusion claim

DOJ investigating AT&T and Verizon for collusion

Report: DOJ investigating AT&T, Verizon over possible collusion

On Saturday, a telecommunications standards organization, GSMA, said that the implementation of a new cell phone technology dis being delayed by them due to a USA government's ongoing terms of alleged coordination between the group, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., to hinder consumers from easily switching wireless carriers. The potential collusion is over a technology called eSIM, which lets people remotely switch carriers without having to get a new physical SIM card. The department issued demands to the companies and the GSMA, a mobile industry standards group, for information on possible collusion, the report said.

Apple and other equipment makers have complained to the Justice Department about wireless carrier practices related to eSIM technology, two sources familiar with the matter said.

AT&T is already locked in a legal battle with the Justice Department over its plan to acquire Time Warner. AT&T also indicated it was they are working with the Justice Department.

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The accusations regarding this issue are much ado about nothing. Nothing more. We've been proactively and constructively working with the Department of Justice for several months regarding this inquiry and we continue to do so.

"We are aware of the investigation into GSMA's process for developing eSIM standards that provide a better experience for consumers", AT&T said. They contend that this merger is anti-competitive and would lead to higher prices for consumers.

The eSIM technology, which was introduced in early 2016, is embedded in mobile phones and other devices so people do not need SIM cards anymore. The Apple Watch 3 and Google's Pixel 3 also have eSIMs installed.

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Apple and Samsung have both been pushing the telecom industry to adopt eSIM technology.

The push by the major carriers to restrict the flexibility of eSIM run counter to a movement in which consumers were gaining more flexibility to move from carrier to carrier.

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

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For more than one year, the Justice Department has been examing SIM cards and phone portability, focusing on the largest carriers, AT&T and Verizon Communications. Verizon supposedly claimed that it needed to lock down their phones as a way to prevent theft and fraud.

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