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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: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
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Jefferson470092
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Daviess4169108
Scott405865
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Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
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