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Telecom Standard Group puts new technology on hold after US probe



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A telecommunications standardization organization – GSMA – said Saturday that it is delaying the implementation of a new mobile phone technology due to an investigation of alleged coordination between the group, AT & T Inc ( TN ) and Verizon Communications Inc ( VZ.N ) to prevent consumers from easily switching mobile service providers.

FILE PHOTO: GSMA flags fly at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 27, 2015. The GSMA Mobile World Congress, which represents the interests of the global mobile industry, will be held in Barcelona from 2 to 5 March. REUTERS / Albert Gea

The GSMA said in a statement that the transition to a global standard for eSIM technology is "pending the completion of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice.

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It's about a technology that could make the carrier's business more volatile. With ESIM, consumers can switch wireless providers without having to use a new physical SIM card, an identifying microchip. This makes it easier to compare wireless networks and select a new service if needed.

"This standard contains a variety of features, including the option to lock the eSIM, but consumers in the US would have the option, but they would have to explicitly agree under specific commercial agreements with their mobile operator, for example when buying a subsidized device" said GSMA.

It added that it fully cooperates with the Ministry of Justice.

Verizon on Friday called the probe "a lot of noise for nothing," adding that it has worked with the Justice Department for several months "in terms of investigation," according to spokesman Rich Young. AT & T also stated that they are working with the Ministry of Justice.

Apple Inc ( AAPL.O ) and other device manufacturers have complained to the Department of Justice about mobile operator practices related to eSIM technology, two sources familiar with the matter said. Apple declined to comment.

Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Letter from Ginger Gibson; Adaptation by Matthew Lewis


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