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Government reportedly investigating AT&T and Verizon for collusion

Government reportedly investigating AT&T and Verizon for collusion Government reportedly investigating AT&T and Verizon for collusion
Conrad Doyle | 23 April, 2018, 18:31

AT&T also indicated it was they are working with the Justice Department.

This investigation, according to today's report, started five months ago after one device maker and wireless carrier filed formal complaints with the DOJ.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying in an email that "as a matter of policy, the Department of Justice does not confirm, deny, or otherwise comment, on the existence or nonexistence of investigations". Verizon and AT&T have been accused that they colluded with the GSMA to try and develop standards which would allow them to keep the devices locked to their network even if it used eSIM technology.

"We are aware of the investigation into GSMA's process for developing eSIM standards that provide a better experience for consumers", an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. In a statement to the newspaper, a Verizon spokesman called the investigation "a difference of opinion" and "much ado about nothing".

The U.S. Justice Department is probing some of the leading wireless carriers and an industry group over possible coordination to make it harder for customers to switch carriers.

eSIM is a technology that eliminates the need for a physical SIM card, which has traditionally been needed to switch carriers. eSIM allows carriers to switch carriers remotely without the need to purchase a new SIM card. GSMA noted that under the pending standard, a mobile carrier would need permission from a consumer to lock a device. The company said it "will continue to work proactively within GSMA, including with those who might disagree with the proposed standards, to move this issue forward".

The crux of this issue is to find out whether the country's two largest mobile network carriers tried to control mobile technology to unethically maintain their dominance of the telecom market in such a way that it hurt fair competition and customers and obstructed innovation in the industry. When changing carriers, people have to buy new SIM cards. The technology, introduced in 2016, comes embedded in the phone so SIM cards are unnecessary. The government already is suing to block AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc., arguing the tie-up will hand AT&T undo bargaining leverage in programming negotiations and ultimately raise prices for subscribers. This technology is supported by mobile phone manufacturers like Microsoft, Google and Apple as well as some global and American mobile carriers. Verizon closed down 1.1 percent to $47.90 on Friday after losing as much as 2.5 percent, while AT&T fell 1.9 percent but recovered to close at $34.67, down 0.4 percent.

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