Justice Department said to investigate AT&T, Verizon over wireless collusion claim

Justice Department said to investigate AT&T, Verizon over wireless collusion claim

The NY Times claims the letters were sent out in February and is only now coming to light.

According to the New York Times, multiple sources have told them that the Department of Justice is investigating AT&T, Verizon and the GSM Association (GSMA) where they are looking for evidence that these parties working together attempting to limit eSIM technology. An embedded SIM, or eSIM, is a standardized SIM chip that allows users to switch between carriers without changing a SIM card. eSIMs are commonly found in smartwatches but have recently been added to a few smartphones such as the Google Pixel 2. AT&T and Verizon face accusations that they colluded with the GSMA to try to establish standards that would allow them to lock a device to their network even if it had eSIM technology. CNBC clearly points out that the "one device maker" was Apple. "Nothing more", Verizon said. One of the device manufacturers that reportedly filed a complaint is Apple.

A spokesman for Verizon downplayed the importance of the investigation. The newspaper also reported that the Justice Department has demanded information from GSMA, a mobile communications industry group.

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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". Locking down this technology would only make the wireless carriers have stronger control, reducing the possibilities of a healthy competitive wireless market in the United States.

"The development of the latest version of the specification is on hold pending the completion of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice", GSMA said in a statement. The DOJ argues that the deal will hurt competition and lead to higher prices. As we have from the outset, we will continue to work with Federal officials and others in the industry as we strive to find a mutually acceptable solution. Read the NY Times report here. This is likely why CNBC believes that it was Apple who contacted the government to complain about the problem. Other companies have since voiced similar concerns, the report said.

In February, the department sent civil investigative demands to the four major US wireless carriers - including T-Mobile and Sprint, and GSMA.

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