Universal SIM card rollout faces another hurdle

The rollout of universal SIM cards, called eSIM, could be delayed because of an investigation into whether wireless c...

Posted: Apr 22, 2018 2:58 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2018 2:58 PM

The rollout of universal SIM cards, called eSIM, could be delayed because of an investigation into whether wireless carriers colluded to make it more difficult for customers to switch service providers.

GSMA, a group that works to set eSIM standards for the wireless industry, said Saturday that the latest version of eSIM standards is "on hold pending the completion" of a US Department of Justice probe. The group added that it's "cooperating fully" in the investigation.

The standards are meant to serve as an agreement between service providers and smart device manufacturers - from Apple to Samsung - on eSIM card use.

eSIM cards are designed to be more customer friendly because they allow people to switch their wireless carrier without having to install a new card on their device.

The technology for eSIM cards already exists, but it's essentially useless if wireless providers and device manufacturers can't agree on how it should be used. That's why the GSMA standards are so important.

The New York Times reported Friday that the DOJ is looking into whether the nation's largest carriers, AT&T and Verizon, coordinated with GSMA on proposed new standards that would give the companies the ability to lock customers into a wireless carrier, even if their devices have eSIM cards. That could violate US antitrust law.

A source also confirmed to CNNMoney that the DOJ sent letters to Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and GSMA earlier this year. All four service providers aren't necessarily targets of the probe.

Related: AT&T antitrust trial comes down to testimony from AT&T CEO

A Verizon spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the DOJ's investigation is "much ado about nothing."

"The reality is that we have a difference of opinion with a couple of phone equipment manufacturers regarding the development of e-SIM standards. Nothing more," the statement reads. "We've been proactively and constructively working with the Department of Justice for several months regarding this inquiry and we continue to do so."

An AT&T spokesperson also said in a statement Friday that it has provided information to investigators and will "continue to work proactively" to move the eSIM issue forward.

Related: Justice Department opens investigation into wireless carriers

T-Mobile did not respond to inquiries from CNNMoney, and Sprint declined to comment on the matter.

Carriers aren't thrilled with the eSIM concept because it makes it easier for customers to leave their networks, says Craig Moffett, a telecom industry analyst at MoffettNathanson.

"It's no secret that none of the carriers have been eager to embrace the idea," Moffett said.

Most SIM cards in use today are exclusively linked to a carrier, forcing customers that want to switch service providers to buy a new SIM card and physically swap it out on their device.

eSIM technology, introduced in 2016, aims to eliminate that process with built-in cards that can easily swap wireless providers remotely with a software update.

The Apple Watch 3, some iPad models, the Google Pixel 2 smartphone and the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, for example, all come with eSIM cards.

But eSIM cards are not yet widely used in the United States, and some devices that have eSIM cards can't necessarily link up to any network.

Verizon, for example, does not support eSIM-connected service for Apple iPads or Google Pixel 2s.

This isn't the first time eSIM standards have become the target of a DOJ probe. Officials launched a similar investigation in 2016 ahead of the adoption of an early set of GSMA rules, but investigators ultimately dropped the case due to a lack of evidence, as The Washington Post reported Saturday.

-CNN's Seth Fiegerman and Hadas Gold contributed to this report.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 614990

Reported Deaths: 7771
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1276671805
Ramsey53587912
Dakota47636477
Anoka43650466
Washington27897298
Stearns22870227
St. Louis18418321
Scott17814139
Wright16652153
Olmsted13678104
Sherburne1221696
Carver1084049
Rice8336112
Clay831592
Blue Earth775144
Crow Wing694099
Kandiyohi675385
Chisago631855
Otter Tail594387
Benton590498
Goodhue489174
Douglas481781
Mower480334
Winona467852
Itasca465768
Isanti448567
McLeod438061
Morrison431162
Beltrami413563
Nobles411950
Steele403219
Polk391673
Becker390557
Lyon367354
Carlton357958
Freeborn356234
Pine339023
Nicollet335745
Mille Lacs317256
Brown310040
Le Sueur302128
Todd290533
Cass290033
Meeker269044
Waseca243923
Martin238333
Roseau213121
Wabasha20963
Hubbard199241
Dodge19383
Renville184746
Redwood179541
Houston177916
Cottonwood168324
Wadena166023
Fillmore162310
Faribault158420
Chippewa154838
Pennington154320
Kanabec148328
Sibley148110
Aitkin140337
Watonwan13699
Rock130219
Jackson123212
Pipestone117326
Yellow Medicine115620
Pope11467
Murray107910
Swift107818
Koochiching96919
Stevens92911
Clearwater89617
Marshall89118
Lake85421
Wilkin84813
Lac qui Parle76222
Big Stone6134
Grant5958
Lincoln5893
Mahnomen5679
Norman5519
Unassigned51293
Kittson49322
Red Lake4037
Traverse3865
Lake of the Woods3504
Cook1760

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
Adams3504
Unassigned80
Rochester
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Mason City
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 62°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 68°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 63°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 66°
Hazy days are back this week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Weather 8/4

Image

Mayo Clinic employee reaches a milestone

Image

National Night Out returns to Rochester

Image

Aaron's Tuesday Night Forecast (8/3/21)

Image

Kasson-Mantorville fishing team

Image

House of Shields offers officer lodging

Image

Rochester celebrates National Night Out

Image

RPS defining COVID-19 safety plan

Image

Pop-up chess downtown

Image

Freeborn County Fair offers free COVID-19 vaccines

Community Events