AT&T, Verizon under DoJ antitrust investigation for possible eSIM collusion, report says

REUTERS  Mario Anzuoni  File

REUTERS Mario Anzuoni File

AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. are under investigation by US antitrust officials over whether the companies colluded to make it tougher for consumers to switch wireless carriers, according to three people familiar with the matter. According to the sources cited, officials are looking into whether the two carriers, as well as telecom standards organization GSMA, colluded to make it harder for customers to switch providers. The eSIM standard lets wireless subscribers move their phone number to a new carrier without having to.

Consumer advocates learned in February that Verizon was apparently planning to lock phones as an anti-theft measure, and later were told by industry participants that Verizon was working with AT&T in hopes of convincing the GSMA to create a standard for locking the phones, according to Harold Feld, a senior vice president at Public Knowledge.

DOJ, GSMA and AT&T declined to comment on the story. AT&T and Verizon stand accused of seeking the ability to keep phone numbers locked to their networks regardless of eSim.

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"We are aware of the investigation into GSMA's process for developing eSIM standards that provide a better experience for consumers", AT&T said.

GSMA had no comment on the investigation.

The investigation was opened after the Justice Department recieved formal complaints from at least one wireless carrier and one device maker.

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Verizon repudiated the claim, arguing a "difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards," but has been working with the USA government on the inquiry. Read the NY Times report here.

AT&T, which is fighting the Justice Department's efforts to block its takeover of Time Warner Inc., dropped 1.9 percent but recovered to close at $34.67, down 0.4 percent. The Justice Department says its merger will hurt competition and lead to higher prices for customers.

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 DOJ must investigate this alleged collusion swiftly to protect the rights of American consumers".

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Epic said the patch notes will be published "once downtime begins", so we also know there will be a period of downtime as well. If true, Battlefield: Battle Royale may end up becoming nothing more than an internal project that never sees the light of day.

AT&T acknowledged the eSIM investigation in a statement. AT&T and Time Warner have strongly disputed the claims in a federal trial that is expected to end this month.

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