Verizon: Collusion with AT&T Is 'Make-Believe Issue'

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The companies confirmed the inquiry in separate statements late Friday in response to a report in The New York Times.

News of the investigation comes as AT&T is already fighting the Justice Department in court over its blockbuster deal to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Although carriers could be anxious about the ramifications of customers switching more easily, tech companies would like to see the space in phones and other devices ordinarily reserved for SIM cards to be used for other systems.

A report last week indicated that the Justice Department was looking into whether Verizon, AT&T and other major US carriers colluded with GSMA to allow carriers to lock devices to a specific network - even if those devices were equipped with eSIM technology that would allow for easier switching between providers.

Ironically, news about the investigation has led the announce that it is putting work on developing a global standard for eSIM technology on hold while the investigation plays out.

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This investigation was opened about five months ago after device makers and at least one mobile carrier service filed formal complaints with the Justice Department. Any good government inquiry is looked at and ultimately decided on merit. "Their findings were quite clear then, and we're confident the outcome will be the same this time ... the reality is that there's nothing to substantiate it". The DoJ reportedly is seeking information on if the two telecommunications companies worked together to "thwart" eSIM technology. "In the meantime, we continue to work proactively and constructively working with the Department of Justice and will continue to do so".

"Remote provisioning means much smaller devices can be supported".

However, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is determining whether there has been collusion between AT&T and Verizon to make it hard for customers to switch networks with eSIM.

The standard contains a wide range of features, including the option for the eSIM to be locked. "In the United States, consumers would have this option; however, they would need to explicitly consent to this under specific commercial agreements with their mobile operator, for example when purchasing a subsidized device", GSMA said. Since the news first broke, we've learned that the DoJ has sought information from Sprint and T-Mobile as well as the two big carriers, and that Apple (among other companies) complained to the Department of Justice about collusion between carriers.