Several sources are saying that the US’ two biggest carriers are now facing an antitrust investigation from the Justice department. A couple of complaints have supposedly been filed claiming that AT&T and Verizon are colluding with the G.S.M.A, a mobile industry standards-setting group, to block the eSIM technology. They are reportedly trying to thwart the technology from being applied to more devices as this would allow users to easily switch between carriers on their smartphones, thus potentially making them lose previously loyal customers.
Five months ago, a device maker (reportedly Apple) and one wireless carrier filed complaints with the Justice Department against the two major carriers and G.S.M.A. They claim that the three were secretly trying to influence mobile technology by developing a standard that would allow the two to still lock devices to their network even if the gadget already has eSIM technology. Obviously if true, this was to “unfairly” maintain their dominance in the country, where together they control 70% of all wireless subscriptions.
eSIM was introduced a couple of years ago and does away with the need for an actual SIM card as the technology is embedded in the device. It would make it easier for people to switch since their devices aren’t locked to a carrier, making it convenient for those traveling to other countries on business. Unfortunately, it would not be favorable for major carriers, hence the supposed collusion to restrict the flexibility of eSIM.
A Verizon spokesperson said that they have been working with the Justice Department on an inquiry but says it is just a “difference of opinion” with some manufacturers and that it is “much ado about nothing.” Someone from AT&T also said they were “aware of the investigation” and they are providing information needed in order to move on from this issue. G.S.M.A meanwhile confirmed they developed an eSIM standard that can let carriers lock devices to their network but would need consumers’ permission to do so. This is currently on hold pending the investigation.
VIA: New York Times