AT&T, Verizon Under Investigation Over Alleged eSIM Collusion

Greg Lawrence
April 21, 2018

This investigation, according to today's report, started five months ago after one device maker and wireless carrier filed formal complaints with the DOJ.

eSIMs are at the heart of Microsoft's Always-Connected PC initiative, and Windows 10 Redstone 4 is set to make it easy to buy data plans from carriers simply by downloading an app from the Microsoft Store, similar to how one can buy a WIFI data plan. In February, the Justice Department requested information from AT&T, Verizon, and the G.S.M.A regarding collusion. "Nothing more." GSMA declined to comment.

It is unclear as to who might have made the complaint to the US Department of Justice, but tweets from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Eric Newcomer have revealed that Apple could have been the one behind it. Verizon has denied any wrongdoing.

An active investigation has now been in play for 5 months with Verizon saying it was "much ado about nothing" and AT&T being eager to "move this issue forward".

In a statement, a Verizon spokesman confirmed that the carrier had been working with the Justice Department for several months on the inquiry because of "a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards".

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. Delrahim has said the deal will hurt competition and lead to higher prices for cable customers.

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The BJP held two news conferences over the Supreme Court judgment, underlining how important the issue was to the party. Lone and Tehseen Poonawalla filed a petition in Supreme Court to initiate an independent probe in this matter.

Observers of the trial say AT&T appears to have an advantage after exposing weaknesses in the government's pricing power claims. With an eSIM embedded in a handset, the user doesn't have to swap a SIM card on a phone to change carriers.

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

MacRumors covered Apple Watch 3 with LTE and eSIM cards having problems with AT&T going back to last September.

Harold Feld, the senior vice president of consumer group Public Knowledge, told the Times that AT&T and Verizon pushed for the ability to lock phones to their networks at a meeting of the GSMA North America sector earlier this year. Verizon further argues that locking down phones is to prevent theft and fraud.

He previously warned of the potential for "cartel-like behavior" by competitors that got together with standards-setting organizations.

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