Monday, 24 September, 2018

AT&T and Verizon have been working together to screw you

Department of Justice Department of Justice in Washington Bill Clark
Sherry Houston | 21 April, 2018, 13:53

Most phones now 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.

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.

AT&T and Verizon together control about 70 percent of all wireless subscriptions in the United States. The DOJ apparently is investigating whether the carriers looked at each other and said, "This is not cool" because the technology makes leaving for another carrier much easier, Zelin said.

The investigation began five months after one device maker and one wireless carrier filed complaints of collusion to the Justice Department.

More recently, the IoT industry has been pushing for eSIM services with the argument that IoT devices can potentially be deployed anywhere in the world, and so therefore need to be able to remotely switch among providers - like when a connected auto drives across country lines.

The feds are looking into whether AT&T and Verizon along with an global standards body have been in cahoots to make it hard for people to switch carriers, according to a report from the New York Times.

"In the context of antitrust and I.P., we will be inclined to investigate and enforce when we see evidence of collusive conduct undertaken for the goal of fixing prices, or excluding particular competitors or products", Mr. Delrahim said in a speech this month at a conference in Washington. The Justice Department hasn't confirmed the allegations at this time.

"There is a constant problem with industry standards-setting organizations that on the one hand allow the industry to come together for the goal of efficiency but can be very anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said. For more on this read the full NY Times report here. The Apple Watch 3, Google Pixel 2 smartphone and Microsoft Surface all have eSIM abilities, for example. This is likely why CNBC believes that it was Apple who contacted the government to complain about the problem.

T-Mobile and Sprint allow iPad users to switch between carriers via a menu on the iPad, while AT&T users can use the eSIM but not to switch to another carrier. To catch up on this tech drama, check out CNN's report here.

Observers of the trial say AT&T appears to have an advantage after exposing weaknesses in the government's pricing power claims. Today we know it as Apple Worldwide Video.

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