The U.S. Justice Department has reportedly opened an antitrust investigation into claims that AT&T, Verizon, and the G.S.M.A, a mobile industry standards group, colluded to prevent customers from easily switching wireless carriers using eSIM technology. The investigation began five months after one device maker and one wireless carrier filed complaints of collusion to the Justice Department. In February, the Justice Department requested information from AT&T, Verizon, and the G.S.M.A regarding collusion.
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. The technology particularly aids customers who travel internationally and frequently switch carriers.
Verizon and AT&T organized a meeting with the G.S.M.A earlier this year, with the goal of gaining the ability to lock phones to their networks, regardless of eSIM. This would make it impossible for customers to switch carriers and runs counter to the purpose of eSIM. Verizon and AT&T control roughly 70 percent of the U.S. wireless market. Both carriers pride themselves on low churn rates (number of customers switching carriers) and it’s unsurprising that they would be looking for a way to maintain barriers to switching.
We’ll keep you updated as this investigation continues.