Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Apple, device makers behind DOJ probe of telecom collusion

REUTERS  Mario Anzuoni  File US Said to Investigate AT&T and Verizon Over Wireless Collusion Claim
Lori Graves | 22 April, 2018, 01:47

A telecommunications standards organization - GSMA - said on Saturday it is delaying implementation of a new cellphone technology due to a United States government probe of alleged coordination between the group, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc to hinder consumers from easily switching wireless carriers. Read the NY Times report here.

The Justice Department sent demands to AT&T, Verizon and the GSMA, an industry standards-setting group, on efforts to thwart a technology called eSIM.

Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have increasingly been losing subscribers to T-Mobile, thanks to more consumer friendly policies ranging from cheaper worldwide roaming to the elimination of hidden fees and long-term contracts. "We've been proactively and constructively working with the Department of Justice for several months regarding this inquiry and we continue to do so".

One source told the paper that the investigation could also include other top USA carriers.

The investigation was launched roughly five months ago after "at least one device maker and one wireless carrier" (possibly T-Mobile?) filed formal complaints with the Justice Department, insiders told the Times.

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DOJ, GSMA and AT&T declined to comment on the story.

"The accusations regarding this issue are much ado about nothing", Verizon spokesman Rich Young said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

However, Judge Richard Leon, who will decide if AT&T will be allowed to buy Time Warner, is unlikely to consider a report of potential wrongdoing by the wireless giant because it is irrelevant to the merger trial under way in Washington, said Seth Bloom, a veteran of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

FBN's Connell McShane discusses the court battle between AT&T-Time Warner and the Department of Justice. However as 9to5Mac points out, Google and Microsoft both offer devices that use eSIM tech, suggesting that they might also have a good reason to possibly file a complaint as well.

Harold Fled, a VP of them consumer protection group Public Knowledge, said that he was briefed on a meeting previous year where AT&T and Verizon discussed pushing for device locking, and Verizon claimed that it needed to protect against theft and fraud.

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