Justice Department Probes US Wireless Carriers' Work on SIM Card Alternative

AT&T, Verizon under DoJ antitrust investigation for possible eSIM collusion, report says

The eSIM standard lets wireless subscribers move their phone number to a new carrier without having to. The government contends the companies worked with the GSMA to try to establish standards that would allow them to lock a device to their networks even if it had the eSIM technology, according to the article. The Justice Department investigation was opened about five months ago after device makers, filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice regarding the switching issues, Bloomberg reports. In February, the Justice Department requested information from AT&T, Verizon, and the G.S.M.A regarding collusion.

More recently, the IoT industry has been pushing for eSIM services with the argument that IoT devices can potentially be deployed anywhere in the world, and so therefore need to be able to remotely switch among providers - like when a connected auto drives across country lines. The New York Times reported on the antitrust inquiry earlier Friday.

"This accusations regarding this issue are much a do about nothing", he said in a statement.

Verizon and AT&T fell on the news.

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 that instance, the Justice Department claims that control of key content will give AT&T leverage to use against competitors and streaming services to keep prices high. He has said the Justice Department will scrutinize potential coordination in standards-setting organizations that can hurt competition. 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.

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

Apple has been including eSIM technology in its iPads for some time now, and began offering it with its Series 3 cellular Apple Watches as well. This is likely why CNBC believes that it was Apple who contacted the government to complain about the problem. To catch up on this tech drama, check out CNN's report here. Those using abusive language or negative behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.

Apple is in the midst of preparing a new video service, something like Netflix. Only time will tell.

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