Justice Investigating AT&T and Verizon for Collusion

  • Justice Investigating AT&T and Verizon for Collusion

Justice Investigating AT&T and Verizon for Collusion

While the latest report from CNBC mentions that Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint all received requests for information from the Justice Department, this morning's New York Times stated that the Justice Department was investigating Verizon, AT&T and the G.S.M.A.

"The reality is that we have a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of e-SIM standards", Verizon spokesman Rich Young said to The Wall Street Journal.

The Justice Department sent demands to AT&T, Verizon and the GSMA, an industry standards-setting group, on efforts to thwart eSIM. The investigation was opened five months ago after Apple and an unnamed wireless carrier complained to the DOJ, according to Reuters.

AT&T is also facing an antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department over its $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

News of the probe comes at a critical time for AT&T which is being sued by the Justice Department to stop its deal to buy the media company, Time Warner.

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".

It is unclear as to who might have made the complaint to the US Department of Justice, but tweets from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Eric Newcomer have revealed that Apple could have been the one behind it. Verizon and AT&T allegedly conspired to circumvent the tech by working with GSMA to force a standard to still lock the devices - even if the phones had the eSIM technology. AT&T told the Times that it was aware of the investigation and cooperating with authorities.

Most mobile phones use SIM cards, which contain unique identifying information about a user and are inserted into the devices so the phones can function.

As it is, carriers around the world and in the United States in particular already hold an overwhelming power over consumers, often charging ridiculously high fees to purchase and activate a new SIM card.

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. It would also make it easier for people to use their devices while traveling for business.

All three carriers have confirmed the existence of this investigation.

Verizon claimed it needed to be able to lock down phones to prevent theft and fraud, but Ferras Vinh, a policy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology noted: "The actions would limit choice for consumers and harm competition".