The Wall Street Journal: Justice Department investigating AT&T and Verizon over collusion claim

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether U.S. wireless carriers and an industry trade group teamed up to make it harder for cellphone subscribers to switch providers, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The agency in February sent civil investigative demands to major U.S. wireless carriers and the GSMA, an international standards organization responsible for eSIM technology, the people said. The eSIM standard lets wireless subscribers move their phone number to a new carrier without having to remove a physical SIM card.

The department for more than a year has had its eye on the issue of SIM cards and phone portability, with a focus on the two largest carriers, AT&T Inc. T, -0.43%  and Verizon Communications Inc VZ, -1.09%   , though the February subpoenas represent a new stage of the inquiry, the people said.

A spokesman for London-based GSMA declined to comment. A Verizon spokesman confirmed the wireless provider has been cooperating with the department’s probe for several months.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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