GSMA halts development of eSIM standard

25 Apr 2018

The GSMA has confirmed it has put development of a universal standard for eSIMs on hold pending the outcome of an investigation by the US Department of Justice.

The eSIM standard would contain a range of features, including an option for the eSIM to be locked to a specific carrier.

But the Department of Justice has now opened an antitrust investigation into the GMSA, as well as US operators AT&T and Verizon which are helping lead the development of the standard, according to a report in the New York Times.

The report, which cites six unnamed sources, states that the department is investigating allegations that AT&T, Verizon and the GSMA have been colluding to prevent customers from easily switching to another provider by allowing them to lock a device to their network.

The investigation was reportedly opened in response to complaints from at least one device maker – Apple – and one rival wireless operator, the report adds.

In a statement, the GSMA said that the development of the latest version of the eSIM specification is on hold pending the completion of the investigation, and that it is cooperating fully with the department.

The industry body also noted that under the proposed standard, in the US, consumers would have to explicitly consent to being locked to a provider when signing up to specific contracts, such as when purchasing a subsidized device.

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