Justice Department investigating collusion among United States wireless carriers

Department of Justice

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.

The New York Times reported on Friday that the Justice Department had opened an investigation about five months ago after at least one device maker and one wireless carrier filed formal complaints with the Justice Department.

Make it your business.

The Justice Department is investigating an alleged case of collusion, but this has nothing to do with President Donald J. Trump and Russian Federation. The Justice Department hasn't confirmed the allegations at this time. Verizon has denied any wrongdoing. He said the issue was "much ado about nothing". Speaking with NYT, a spokesperson for the carrier said that Verizon has been working with the DOJ on a probe over "a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards".

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The probe will unfold alongside the Justice Department's ongoing effort to block a proposed $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner, citing concerns that the deal would be harmful to consumers.

Observers of the trial say AT&T appears to have an advantage after exposing weaknesses in the government's pricing power claims. 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.

Apple has been including eSIM technology in its iPads for some time now, and began offering it with its Series 3 cellular Apple Watches as well. One the one hand it would make it easier to purchase data wherever your travels take you, and always have the best signal no-matter who your primary provider is, but on the other hand it may make carriers reluctant to subsidize ACPC devices, who tend to be more expensive than a similar device without a WLAN modem. Harold Feld, a senior vice president of the non-profit consumer group Public Knowledge, told the Times that he was briefed about a meeting for a task force called G.S.M.A.

"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 anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said.

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