Skip to main content

Verizon, AT&T under investigation for allegedly colluding to block eSIM tech

Verizon and AT&T are under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after claims that the companies colluded to thwart the development of eSIM technology — and make it difficult for you to easily switch carriers.

According to two people familiar with the matter who were cited in a report by the New York Times, the Justice Department first demanded information from Verizon and AT&T, as well as industry standard-setting organization GSMA. This took place in February after formal complaints were filed. Following these events, device manufacturers expressed their concern about carriers’ involvement in restricting the spread of eSIM technology.

Electronic SIM technology, or eSIM, essentially allows customers to quickly and easily switch to a new carrier without having to obtain and insert a new SIM card. The tech could even find a home in a new generation of connected devices, such as connected computers. That may sound great to you as a consumer, but carriers aren’t so happy about it, as it means that customers who find cheaper prices will be able to switch carriers without issue.

Verizon and AT&T, which currently control a combined 70 percent of wireless subscriptions in the U.S., stand to lose a lot of money with the technology. As a result, they even pushed for the ability to lock phones to their networks, which would essentially bypass the goal of eSIM technology in the first place.

In particular, investigators are working to determine if AT&T and Verizon are secretly trying to influence the development of the new tech to unfairly maintain their dominance and, which would hurt consumers.

Several device manufacturers currently support eSIM technology, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Apple even included eSIM tech in the Apple Watch Series 3, while Google uses a version of it in the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

The consensus among consumers and tech companies seems to be that eSIM technology is on the way regardless of what carriers want. This won’t stop the companies from hindering its arrival, however. They could certainly wield enough of their power to slow down the development of eSIM technology or change the eSIM standard in some way.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
Verizon Unlimited plans bundle 5G, but won’t allow 1080p streaming over LTE
verizon withdraw yahoo store

Mix and Match New Unlimited Plans

Verizon has announced a new range of mix-and-match Unlimited plans, available from August 5. With a variable amount of data and benefits, these new plans mean you can finally pick a plan that fits your usage -- as long as your usage doesn't involve Full HD content on LTE.

Read more
People are buying 5G phones when they don’t even have 5G
qualcomm snapdragon 5g devices mwc 2019 phones moto z3

Mobile carriers have touted 5G as the next giant leap in wireless communication and technology, with expectations to impact health care, transportation, and robotics to name a few. Despite the buzz and pending implications, 5G is only available in select cities, and typically in even more select areas of those cities. That hasn’t thwarted people from buying 5G phones, though.

A new report from global research firm, Counterpoint Technology Market Research, states that the majority of 5G smartphone sales in the month of May came from areas that currently don’t have 5G service.

Read more
Samsung, T-Mobile to recycle an old phone for every S10e sold in the Netherlands
Closing the Loop

One for One - Circularity for Phones

Cell phones already outnumber people by more than 1 billion and manufacturers are set to produce around another 1.5 billion this year alone. Yet only around 25% of the cell phones we throw away are being recycled and that percentage is a lot lower in some places -- it falls to around 1% in Africa. A Dutch company called Closing the Loop is trying to boost phone recycling with a simple scheme and it has persuaded Samsung and T-Mobile to try it out.

Read more