Public Knowledge Responds to Report of Possible AT&T-Verizon Collusion

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Today, reports indicate that the Department of Justice is investigating alleged collusion between AT&T and Verizon at GSMA, a standards-setting body. The alleged collusion would make it more difficult for consumers to move from one carrier to another.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“New technologies can increase customer choice. eSIMs could make it easier for customers to use their phones, tablets, smartwatches, and other connected devices with multiple carriers, enabling consumers to pick whichever carrier has the best service or lowest price.

“But new technologies can also provide companies with ways to take away consumer freedoms. That is why it has been disturbing to learn that major carriers may be colluding behind closed doors to make eSIMs benefit themselves, instead of consumers. The two major wireless carriers -- AT&T and Verizon -- stand to benefit if device portability becomes more difficult. No one else does.

“This is especially disturbing given that, just a few years ago, Congress unanimously passed a bill giving consumers the right to device portability. While this was only a temporary fix, it shows that device portability has widespread, bipartisan support.

“Standards-setting bodies are both extremely valuable, and create an opportunity for collusion. Incumbent firms have shown themselves willing to use every tool at their disposal to block competition. The DOJ must investigate this alleged collusion swiftly to protect the rights of American consumers.”

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