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United States investigating AT&T and Verizon over claims of wireless collusion

22 April 2018, 01:48 | Gina Pena

REUTERS Mario Anzuoni File

REUTERS  Mario Anzuoni  File

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.

It's being reported this afternoon that the Justice Department had reached out to all four major US wireless carriers as part of an antitrust investigation.

In an email to Fox 5, the Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny the investigation. He said the company will continue to work with federal officials until they come to a "mutually acceptable solution". "The reality is that we have a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of e-SIM standards". The new chips would allow people to switch carriers by simply messaging their old and new carriers, with no need for having to insert a new SIM card into the device. According to GSMA, the eSIM standard developed in conjunction with AT&T and Verizon throws a wrench into these plans by allowing carriers keep an eSIM-equipped device locked to their network.

The report notes that the source said that the department sent letters to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint in February requesting information. As subscriber growth in the mobile market slows, retaining customers is a top priority. The DOJ apparently is investigating whether the carriers looked at each other and said, "This is not cool" because the technology makes leaving for another carrier much easier, Zelin said.

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At the heart of the investigation is whether the nation's biggest wireless carriers, working with the GSMA, secretly tried to influence mobile technology to unfairly maintain their dominance, in a way that hurt competition and consumers and hindered innovation in the wider mobile industry.

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. AT&T told the Times that it was aware of the investigation and cooperating with authorities.

FBN's Connell McShane discusses the court battle between AT&T-Time Warner and the Department of Justice.

UPDATED 2:11 p.m. PST: This story was updated with a comment from Verizon.



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