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Home / Technology / AT & T and Verizon under investigation for collusion to keep eSIM phones locked in their networks

AT & T and Verizon under investigation for collusion to keep eSIM phones locked in their networks



The US Department of Justice is investigating AT & T and Verizon for alleged collusion with the GSMA to influence eSIM standards so as not to endanger their dominance of the US consumer market. The investigation was opened to Apple five months ago, and an unnamed wireless service provider complained loudly Reuters at the US Department of Justice

eSIM, short for Embedded SIM, is a new format of ubiquitous SIM cards being used in phones and other mobile devices used to securely identify and authenticate a user on the network of a mobile operator. eSIMs are non-removable chips embedded in a device that allow consumers to switch networks through software settings instead of having to physically remove and insert a small piece of plastic into their device. Despite the apparent benefits of eSIM, it has not yet reached any significant presence in the market, with only a few notable devices such as Google's Pixel 2 and the Apple Watch 3.

SIM cards that once were great as credit cards in full size, when they were introduced in 1

991, have gradually decreased as phones have become smaller and smaller, yet an anachronistic technology at a time when manufacturers are "bravely" removing the beloved headphone jack to save a fraction of one Millimeters in the thickness of a device. The "modern" Nano-SIM card, which takes up at least as much space, is a chip that can hold up to 256 kilobytes of data.

Apart from the fact that eSIM is much smaller than today's Nano SIM cards, it would allow customers to switch from one carrier to another with almost as much ease as moving from one e-mail address to another. According to the GSMA, the eSIM standard, developed in collaboration with AT & T and Verizon, adds a key to these plans by allowing operators to attach an eSIM-equipped device to their network. Carriers would require permission from a consumer to block their device, the GSMA said. The standard has now been suspended in anticipation of the DOJ's investigation.

A Verizon spokesman described the investigation as "much ado about nothing", dismissing the matter as little more than a "disagreement" regarding eSIM standards. Verizon had previously stated that phones must be blocked to prevent fraud and theft. While rationale on the surface seems praiseworthy, consumers are already able to block their Android or Apple device in the event of theft, and it's not hard to see how carriers' abilities could be abused.

Carriers, so to speak Carriers everywhere in the world, and especially in the United States, are already overpowering consumers, who often charge ridiculously high fees to buy and activate a new SIM card. In the US, Verizon and AT & T control 70% of all wireless subscriptions. Making the switch easier for consumers would undoubtedly conquer the market.


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