DOJ Investigating AT&T, Verizon for Collusion

DOJ Investigating AT&T, Verizon for Collusion

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation, the DoJ started its investigation into the topic in February after receiving complaints on the topic from at least one device maker and one wireless operator. This would make it impossible for customers to switch carriers and runs counter to the goal of eSIM. As noted by the NYT, AT&T, Verizon and the GSMA declined to comment on the topic. 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.

The investigation highlights a push by the Justice Department's antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, to crack down on the opaque world of intellectual property, or I.P., standards. Notably, Verizon doesn't let iPad users activate cellular service with the eSIM and AT&T locks devices that use the eSIM. He said the issue was "much ado about nothing".

Most phones now require a SIM card to work with a particular carrier, but eSIM, the report noted, would make it possible for people to switch carriers without buying a new SIM card. The DOJ's investigation could show that the companies along with the GSMA were trying to influence the development of this technology in order to maintain their market dominance.

At the same time, the Justice Department is suing AT&T to block its $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner.

The person also said the Justice Department previously examined this matter in 2016, but ended up dropping the investigation.

The technology is now available on some devices, including Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch and Microsoft's Surface Pro LTE tablet.

In December Patently Apple posted a granted patent report that covered Apple's eSIM card technology.

FBN's Connell McShane discusses the court battle between AT&T-Time Warner and the Department of Justice. Verizon supposedly claimed that it needed to lock down their phones as a way to prevent theft and fraud.

"There is a constant problem with industry standards-setting organizations that on the one hand allow the industry to come together for the goal of efficiency but can be very anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said.