AT&T, Verizon to undergo probe

Apr 22, 2018, 01:43
AT&T, Verizon to undergo probe

For more on this read the full NY Times report here.

That would have been accomplished by thwarting "eSIM" technology, which lets people remotely switch providers without inserting a new SIM card into their device.

The US Department of Justice is investigating AT&T and Verizon for allegedly colluding with the GSMA to influence eSIM standards so as not to threaten their dominance over the US consumer market.

Anonymous sources told the NYT that official complaints were filed roughly five months ago, and two months ago the DOJ issued demands to AT&T, Verizon, and the GSMA. Some of Apple's iPads already contain eSIM technology, according to industry sources. Google's Pixel 2 smartphones and Microsoft's Surface devices also use eSIM tech, hinting that these companies may have had reason to file complaints as well.

At issue is a technology that could make carriers' business more volatile. Carriers might be pushed to lower prices or improve services to prevent customers from switching over.

Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have increasingly been losing subscribers to T-Mobile, thanks to more consumer friendly policies ranging from cheaper global roaming to the elimination of hidden fees and long-term contracts.

"We are aware of the investigation into GSMA's process for developing eSIM standards that provide a better experience for consumers", AT&T said.

An AT&T spokesman said in an email: "Along with other GSMA members, we have provided information to the government in response to their requests and will continue to work proactively within GSMA, including with those who might disagree with the proposed standards".

"In the context of antitrust and I.P., we will be inclined to investigate and enforce when we see evidence of collusive conduct undertaken for the objective of fixing prices, or excluding particular competitors or products", Mr. Delrahim said in a speech this month at a conference in Washington.

However, Judge Richard Leon, who will decide if AT&T will be allowed to buy Time Warner, is unlikely to consider a report of potential wrongdoing by the wireless giant because it is irrelevant to the merger trial under way in Washington, said Seth Bloom, a veteran of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

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