The Justice Department’s been conducting an investigation since February.

Trying to switch carriers is a royal pain the butt, and it was recently discovered that Verizon and AT&T are trying to make this process even more difficult. According to a report from The New York Times, the two carriers are under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for working with GSMA to develop a technology that’ll allow them to lock eSIMs to their networks.

The antitrust investigation is said to have begun this past February after Apple and an unnamed carrier filed complaints to the Justice Department regarding the matter. AT&T says it’s “aware of the investigation” and Verizon notes that it has been working with the Department regarding –

A difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of eSIM standards.

As a quick refresher, eSIM is a new technology that’s aiming to eliminate the need for physical SIM cards by allowing you to switch carriers as you please thanks to an embedded chip – making it much easier for folks to flee the clutches of Verizon, AT&T, etc. if they so choose. The Pixel 2 was the first Android phone to feature this technology with Project Fi, and it still is in late April of 2018.

GMSA says it’s been cooperating with the Justice Department as much as possible, but even so, will be putting the development of eSIM tech “on hold” throughout the rest of the investigation. There is already a version of eSIM that can be locked to a specific carrier, but customers would be required to give carriers permission to do this on their behalf.

It’s unclear at this time when GSMA will continue its work on eSIM technology and if Verizon and AT&T will be granted with their locked-down versions. As policy expert Ferras Vinh points out –

The actions would limit choice for consumers and harm competition.

What’s your take on all this?


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