Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Justice Department opens investigation into wireless carriers

The GSMA Mobile World Congress representing the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry will take place from March 2 to 5 in Barcelona. REUTERS  Alb GSMA flags fly at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Thomson Reuters
Edmund Robinson | 21 April, 2018, 13:53

The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating the companies and the GSMA, an industry standards group, for the past 5 months after at least one device maker and one wireless carrier filed a formal complaint with the DOJ, the report says.

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.

In a private meeting this year of a task force called GSMA North America, AT&T and Verizon pushed for the ability to lock phones to their networks, bypassing the objective of eSIM technology, said Harold Feld, a senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a nonprofit consumer group, who was briefed on the meeting.

Representatives for the Justice Department, GSMA and Apple declined to comment.

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.

An AT&T spokesman said the company was "aware of the investigation", had provided information to the government for it and was working "to move this issue forward". We are striving to provide a better experience for the consumer.




Representatives for the carriers and the industry group declined to comment to the Times.

News has broke this afternoon that the US Department of Justice has opened an investigation over antitrust concerns and potential collusion between Verizon and AT&T in efforts to prevent eSIM adoption and progress. 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. "Nothing more", Verizon's Young said. The New York Times reported on the antitrust inquiry earlier Friday. In that instance, the Justice Department claims that control of key content will give AT&T leverage to use against competitors and streaming services to keep prices high. "The DOJ must investigate this alleged collusion swiftly to protect the rights of American consumers".

News of the investigation comes at the same time as the Justice Department is suing to block an acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T.

AT&T sent us a statement, too.

CNN's video below covers why the AT&T Time Warner trial matters.

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