Justice Department opens investigation into wireless carriers

The U.S. Justice Department is probing some of the leading wireless carriers and an industry group over possible coor...

Posted: Apr 21, 2018 5:16 PM
Updated: Apr 21, 2018 5:16 PM

The U.S. Justice Department is probing some of the leading wireless carriers and an industry group over possible coordination to make it harder for customers to switch carriers.

The Justice Department sent a letter in February to the four major national carriers as well as to an industry standards-setting group, GSMA, seeking more information, a person with knowledge of the inquiry told CNN. Not all four are necessarily under investigation, the source cautioned.

The New York Times reported Friday that the Justice Department had opened an antitrust probe into coordination between AT&T, Verizon and GSMA to restrict eSIM, a technology that allows customers to switch carriers without needing to get a new, tiny SIM card.

"We are aware of the investigation into GSMA's process for developing eSIM standards that provide a better experience for consumers," an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. "Along with other GSMA members, we have provided information to the government in response to their requests and will continue to work proactively within GSMA, including with those who might disagree with the proposed standards, to move this issue forward."

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying in an email that "as a matter of policy, the Department of Justice does not confirm, deny, or otherwise comment, on the existence or nonexistence of investigations."

Related: AT&T, DOJ spar over emails and PowerPoints as antitrust trial begins

AT&T acknowledged the eSIM investigation in a statement. "Along with other GSMA members, we have provided information to the government in response to their requests and will continue to work proactively within GSMA, including with those who might disagree with the proposed standards, to move this issue forward."

Sprint declined to comment, and representatives for Verizon, T-Mobile and the GSMA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Verizon and AT&T dipped slightly following the news.

"It's no secret that none of the carriers have been eager to embrace the idea [of eSIM]," says Craig Moffett, a telecom industry analyst at MoffettNathanson.

Unlike traditional SIM cards, which are typically carrier specific, eSIM would let mobile customers switch between the major carriers simply by changing software, according to Moffett.

"A customer that owns a device that can be readily switched from carrier to carrier without even having to bring it in to the store, that's a world that would have much higher churn and lower profitability [for the carriers]," he said.

The eSIM technology is featured on devices made by Google and Apple, including the Pixel smartphone and Apple Watch, respectively.

News of the investigation comes as AT&T is already fighting the Justice Department in court over its blockbuster deal to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 578494

Reported Deaths: 9202
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion798821282
Lake43601664
Allen31380537
Hamilton27675303
St. Joseph26409369
Elkhart23873336
Vanderburgh18192211
Tippecanoe16999116
Porter14183158
Johnson14120277
Hendricks13560236
Madison10312209
Vigo10297171
Clark9952128
Monroe8933105
Delaware8638129
LaPorte8589153
Kosciusko777375
Howard7712136
Warrick624990
Hancock621995
Bartholomew616094
Floyd5971105
Wayne5811155
Grant5716108
Dubois533570
Boone523167
Morgan501485
Marshall487084
Henry483262
Cass464959
Noble453956
Dearborn443343
Jackson410145
Shelby394376
Lawrence374172
Clinton359838
Gibson348556
DeKalb333063
Montgomery329150
Knox323339
Harrison317242
Miami305043
Steuben300740
Adams291635
Ripley287145
Wabash286345
Whitley286324
Huntington278757
Putnam278046
Jasper274933
White262038
Daviess255671
Jefferson242738
Fayette239248
Decatur237382
Greene229259
Posey225626
Wells225146
LaGrange222061
Scott212837
Clay212432
Randolph204940
Jennings188635
Sullivan185831
Spencer176917
Fountain175125
Washington170216
Starke169241
Jay160521
Fulton156829
Owen155536
Carroll150115
Orange146333
Rush145618
Vermillion141633
Perry141327
Franklin139333
Parke12718
Tipton126232
Pike111325
Blackford105122
Pulaski93636
Newton87820
Brown84428
Benton83010
Crawford7229
Martin68013
Warren6427
Switzerland6035
Union6033
Ohio4547
Unassigned0372

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 807293

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin95508704
Cuyahoga80262964
Hamilton59783436
Montgomery40858396
Summit32488697
Lucas29495575
Butler29100225
Stark24048388
Warren18471135
Lorain17563207
Mahoning16430334
Lake14941134
Clermont14703103
Delaware1349574
Licking12353132
Trumbull12096297
Fairfield1184280
Greene11338132
Medina10815164
Clark10334261
Wood9742153
Allen9355126
Miami867373
Portage8628104
Richland8604111
Marion7231112
Tuscarawas6987172
Columbiana6922124
Pickaway689050
Wayne6599162
Muskingum648939
Erie5729117
Hancock529088
Ross518287
Scioto508753
Geauga469955
Darke450589
Ashtabula431467
Union422327
Mercer419485
Lawrence417051
Sandusky413262
Auglaize407059
Shelby404621
Seneca404354
Huron399738
Jefferson391565
Belmont378140
Putnam359370
Washington357039
Athens35469
Madison331128
Knox329022
Ashland322538
Fulton319043
Defiance311476
Crawford306769
Preble306434
Brown289617
Logan284828
Ottawa275534
Clinton272741
Williams265757
Highland255618
Jackson250743
Guernsey234625
Champaign233727
Fayette218929
Morrow21754
Holmes215562
Perry215317
Henry206147
Hardin200932
Coshocton194517
Van Wert193744
Wyandot186948
Gallia186226
Adams160815
Pike160116
Hocking157423
Carroll143216
Paulding137521
Noble116138
Meigs99021
Monroe93827
Harrison8428
Morgan75826
Vinton64013
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 19°
Angola
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 27°
Huntington
Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 26°
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 19°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 23°
Cloudy Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events