U.S. Department of Justice Investigating Claims AT&T, Verizon and GSMA Colluded to Prevent Customers From Easily Switching Carriers [Updated]

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 20, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The United States Department of Justice today launched an antitrust investigation to determine whether U.S. carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, have coordinated to prevent consumers from easily switching wireless carriers, reports The New York Times.

    AT&T, Verizon, and GSMA, an industry group that sets mobile standards, were asked in February for documents related to their efforts to hinder the implementation of eSIMs. An embedded SIM, or eSIM, is a standardized chip that's designed to replace a physical SIM card.

    A physical SIM card slot in an iPhone, via iFixit

    With eSIM technology, there is no need to swap out SIM cards when switching carriers, making it easier to make a switch from one carrier to another. eSIMs are designed to be compatible with all major carriers, regardless of network type.

    eSIMs are a major change from physical SIM cards, which require customers who wish to switch carriers to obtain a new SIM card when changing providers. eSIMs make it simpler for customers to swap carriers while traveling, and, of interest to device makers, they free up space currently taken up by a SIM card.

    AT&T and Verizon are accused of colluding with the GSMA to create standards that would allow devices with eSIM technology to be locked to their networks. Representatives from the two carriers attended a meeting for a private task force called GSMA North America earlier this year and advocated for the ability to keep eSIM devices tied to a single carrier.

    Verizon reportedly claimed that phones needed to be locked to its network in order to prevent theft and fraud.
    The Department of Justice launched began the probe several months ago following formal complaints from at least one device maker and one wireless carrier. The investigation may include other carriers beyond Verizon and AT&T.

    AT&T, Verizon, and other U.S. carriers have long resisted features that would make it easier for customers to switch carriers at will without being tied to a specific network. Verizon, for example, refused to allow Apple to offer Verizon service through the Apple SIM built into newer iPads. The Apple SIM, a multi-carrier SIM card, is designed to make it easier for customers to choose a carrier after an iPad purchase and switch to a new carrier when traveling.

    Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other wireless carriers in the United States are proponents of the eSIM. Apple, for example, is said to want to use eSIM technology in its 2018 iPhones, but may instead opt for dual-SIM technology because "some carriers are resistant to the idea."

    Apple has already implemented eSIM technology in the Apple Watch Series 3 models equipped with LTE connectivity. The eSIM is also a feature of the Google Pixel 2 smartphone and the Microsoft Surface.

    Update: According to CNBC, all four major U.S. carriers received requests from the U.S. Justice Department.

    Update 2: Apple is one of the companies that submitted a complaint to the Department of Justice, according to Bloomberg.

    Article Link: U.S. Department of Justice Investigating Claims AT&T, Verizon and GSMA Colluded to Prevent Customers From Easily Switching Carriers [Updated]
  2. CerebralX macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2013
    Looking for a place of freedom and rationality
    And people say the free market will get rid of these types of practices... I'm all for the free market, but there needs to be at least some form of regulation..
  3. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    AT&T and Verizon? Collusion?

    Say it isn't so. How could such benevolent companies possibly be associated with such a term?

    What would happen next? Something as crazy as...

  4. TheTruth101 Suspended

    Mar 15, 2017
    All I know is that since I got an iPhone X I have been getting 4 times the message telling me "I used all my 1GB of shared data added". I mean... the extras GBs they give once you used your plan. Mine is 6GB or something with AT&T.

    I never had that problem with my iPhone 5, probably once every 3 months or something. With my, iPhone X is EVERY MONTH!!!! and I am not doing anything different. I do not watch movies or play games. Just GPS, Instagram when I am bored and checking emails. Same routine.
  5. JPack macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    It now makes sense why U.S. consumers are in the dark about dual-SIM phones. And questioning the need for it.

    Time to wake up and see how the rest of the world works!
  6. JackieInCo Suspended

    Jul 18, 2013
    I refused to activate my iPad Pro on AT&T because I knew the eSim would be looked to AT&T. I only used T-Mobile because of this

    This is proof that all carriers are shady in some way.
  7. ThisIsNotMe Suspended

    Aug 11, 2008
  8. willmtaylor macrumors G3


    Oct 31, 2009
    A Natural State
  9. macsrcool1234 macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2010
  10. CarlJ macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2004
    San Diego, CA, USA
    It sounds like there are two claims being made: 1) that physical Sims are hard to swap out and thus carriers preferring them over eSims is a sign that they're dragging their feet to keep folks from switching; and, 2) that carriers have worked with the standards groups to add carrier-locking features into eSims.

    The latter sounds plausible, annoying, and worth looking into. The former seems just silly - swapping out a Sim is not rocket surgery, if you are capable of wielding a paper clip, and a new carrier will gladly give you one (or perhaps sell it to you for $10) - pop it in and you're good to go. Furthermore, one could have a large handful of Sims and switch back an forth between many networks at will - I don't know what capacity an eSim has for storing multiple networks.
  11. McTool macrumors 6502


    Feb 14, 2016
    We only have two 3 mayor carriers. You wanna switch? No problem; call the one you wanna go. Next day you get their sim, number doesn’t change, 2 hours later you switcht. They take care of the agreement you have with the one you left. Or go to their store and on the same day you’re switcht.
    No hassle
  12. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    "but may instead opt for dual-SIM technology because "some carriers are resistant to the idea."

    To right they should when you have two instances designed to prevent theft nd stolen devices, and at least one of them doesn't always work. : IMEI number.. which is why locking devices is much better way to handle it.

    eSims would be good and more convenient to customers, but your just increasing crime on mobile devices, unless mobile carriers improve the tracking of IMEI always.

    Something tells me when you have some other technology to prevent fraud that's better,(aka. locking devices to network), we won't ditch it or won't improve the former (IMEI) to also block, we'll just leave it "as is"

    eSims may be good, but just another way from carriers to control the way. From that stand-point it probably could be better, IF implemented in the right way...
  13. HJM.NL macrumors 68000


    Jul 25, 2016
    It seems everybody is trying to get you into his walled garden. I’m happy Apple isn’t a carrier!
  14. lostngone macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2003
    Apple puts in universal sims in their phones. AT&T(by choice) locks that sim to their network forcing the user to get a new sim if they want to switch. Seems pretty clear to me.
  15. tod macrumors regular

    Oct 3, 2009
    Does activating an eSim lock it to one carrier? How does that work on the Apple Watch? I didn't know this... I'm reluctant to buy a cellular Apple Watch.
  16. Ds6778 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 9, 2016
    I hope they get caught, eSIMs should be a standard. Signing up for Project Fi on my 2 XL was awesome and seamless.
  17. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    The Watches are not locked, but they must be with the same carrier as the iPhone to which they're paired. So, if your iPhone is locked, then your Watch is effectively locked-in. If you switch carriers on your iPhone, then it's an easy matter to switch the Watch over to the new carrier (provided the new carrier offers a Watch plan).
  18. Starship67 Suspended


    Oct 28, 2017
    Good thing they are so ethical and didn’t fake ringtones in low signal areas.
  19. whyamihere macrumors 6502


    Jun 30, 2008
    The sooner these companies accept the fact that they are nothing more than a dumb pipe and a means to an end, the better for everyone. I still find it absolutely ridiculous that I can't pre-order a new iPhone each year (paid in full) without being forced to prove an existing wireless account with the big 4.
  20. dmylrea macrumors 68030


    Sep 27, 2005
    Seems it was easier (and clearer) when you had carrier contracts. I can see locking an eSIM to a specific carrier if the phone was FREE as part of an agreement for a term of service, but when we pay practically full price for these phones, they are OUR phones, and if the phone was designed to work on any carrier, it better do just that. Who would pay full price for a phone that can't be used everywhere it was designed to?
  21. vpndev macrumors 6502

    May 11, 2009
    I support all the folks who are bashing AT&T for locking the Apple SIM (not quite and "e-SIM") once AT&T touches it.

    That's very anti-competitive and should be thoroughly investigated. I might even call it "theft".
  22. macsba macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2015
    Next to my Mac.
    About six months ago I got the iPad Pro. What I did was to take the SIM card from my old iPad Air 2 out and place it in the SIM slot of the iPad Pro. Yes, the SIM card is tied to AT&T so no problems there. The internal eSIM of the iPad Pro is still free. Hope this helps.
  23. Fixey macrumors regular


    May 16, 2017
    eSIM would help prevent theft and fraud as a physical SIM can easily be swapped out were a hardware based eSIM is physical soldered to the PCB

    So there argument about it helps prevent theft by not using eSIM is incorrect it is the opposite
  24. BuffaloTF macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2008

    The Apple Watch can change carriers at your command. It gets the data from your phone SIM to set it up... but it always needs to match the carrier of the phone.

    The iPad does not have an eSIM. It has an Apple SIM - a rewritable one. AT&T permanently writes on it, whereas T-Mobile does not. So there’s probably confusion here.
  25. orev macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2015
    Make sure you don't have WiFi Assist turned on in the Cellular options (all the way at the bottom)

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