Federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating allegations of collusion by the U.S.’s two largest wireless carriers and a global industry group.
The New York Times reported Friday that Justice Department antitrust investigators are looking into whether Verizon, AT&T and GSMA colluded to undermine eSIM, a technology introduced in 2016 that eliminates the need for SIM cards in mobile devices.
The probe centers on whether Verizon and AT&T sought to establish standards that would allow carriers to lock devices to their networks even if they had embedded eSIM technology — and whether they unfairly sought to maintain their market positions, hurt consumers or competition or curb wireless innovation.
One source told the paper that the investigation could also include other top U.S. carriers.
Most phones currently require a SIM card to work with a particular carrier, but eSIM, the report noted, would make it possible for people to switch carriers without buying a new SIM card.
In addition to making switching providers easier, eSIM could also allow people to use local carriers during international travel and enable the space ordinarily reserved for SIM cards to be taken up by other phone systems.
The Times, which cited six sources with knowledge of the matter, reported that the probe began about five months ago when at least one device maker and one carrier filed complaints with the DOJ. Other companies have since voiced similar concerns, the report said.
Representatives for the carriers and the industry group declined to comment to the Times.
Filed Under: Industry regulations