Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

US DOJ investigating AT&T and Verizon collusion claims

US DOJ investigating AT&T and Verizon collusion claims US DOJ investigating AT&T and Verizon collusion claims
Russell Knight | 23 April, 2018, 18:22

"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". An unnamed device maker and one wireless carrier field lodged complaints with the Justice Department, due to which the investigation was opened.

Bloomberg News reports that Apple, which has been a major developer of eSIM technology, is one of the parties raising the collusion complaint.

The Justice Department has a policy of not commenting on potential investigations.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, and is now working with mobile operators, device makers, and SIM manufacturers to facilitate the development of a universal standard for eSIM.

In the month of February, the Justice Department had issued demands to AT&T, Verizon and GSMA for information on potential collusion to impede the adoption of eSIM, which lets the customers to switch their carriers without actually needing a physical SIM card to be inserted.

Verizon on Friday called the probe "much ado about nothing", adding it has been working with the Justice Department for several months "regarding the inquiry", according to spokesman Rich Young.

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The into whether AT&T (NYSE:) and Verizon (NYSE:) might be colluding to thwart "eSIM" technology that eases switching from carrier to carrier, The New York Times reported, sending their stocks into a decline before they partly recovered by the close. However, this standard was now on hold, pending the results of the investigation by the Justice Department.

The AT&T spokesperson was more circumspect, simply stating that their company was aware of the investigation and had provided the Justice Department with the information requested and was working towards having this issue resolved. Under the current standards, a mobile carrier would need a customer's permission to lock his or her device to its network.

GSMA said that it had indeed developed an eSIM standard that allowed a mobile carrier to lock a user's device to its network. A technology like eSIM, which would allow users to switch to other carriers and could lead to them losing market share. When changing carriers, people have to buy new SIM cards.

Specifically, the probe is focusing on whether the two telecom giants have tried to block embedded SIM (eSIM) technology, a way to make it easier to switch from one communication system to another.

The development of eSim was supported by a number of manufacturers, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, as well as several mobile carriers globally and in the US.

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