Thursday, 20 September, 2018

United States investigating AT&T and Verizon over claims of wireless collusion

United States investigating AT&T and Verizon over claims of wireless collusion United States investigating AT&T and Verizon over claims of wireless collusion
Grady Vargas | 21 April, 2018, 13:51

The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating the companies and the GSMA, an industry standards group, for the past 5 months after at least one device maker and one wireless carrier filed a formal complaint with the DOJ, the report says.

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.

"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 anticompetitive and operate in secrecy", consumer advocate Harold Feld tells the Times.

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". With eSIM, you wouldn't need a new, physical SIM card to move between AT&T and Verizon, for example.

Image Zoom
Image Zoom

Apple, Verizon, and AT&T did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but in a statement to the New York Times, a Verizon spokesperson said the issue was simply, "difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards".

News has broke this afternoon that the US Department of Justice has opened an investigation over antitrust concerns and potential collusion between Verizon and AT&T in efforts to prevent eSIM adoption and progress.

The antitrust division is looking into whether or not carriers colluded in stifling technology that allows customers to switch providers without having to change out their SIM card. Verizon closed down 1.1 percent to $47.90 after losing as much as 2.5 percent. The Justice Department hasn't confirmed the allegations at this time.

AT&T is already locked in a legal battle with the Justice Department over its plan to acquire Time Warner. Those on the Google carrier do not receive a SIM card when ordering the phone, with service activated and connected during the initial setup process. Collusion to maintain their dominant positions in the market, assuming it happened, would be problematic and is the source of the DOJ's alleged investigation. AT&T and Time Warner have strongly disputed the claims in a federal trial that is expected to end this month.

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