GSM Association puts eSIM standard on hold following investigation into wireless carriers

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442

Telecommunications standards organization GSMA will be holding off on releasing an official standard to replace the SIM card. Following an investigation into AT&T and Verizon by the US Department of Justice, there are allegations suggesting that carriers may intentionally be seeking to make it difficult to transition to competing services.

eSIM is designed to allow smartphones to be switched between carriers without having to switch out physical SIM cards. Just like regular SIM cards, eSIMs are able to be locked to a specific carrier. Under the proposed standard, carriers would be required to seek explicit consent from consumers before imposing a lock. Carriers may be colluding with one another to find a way to keep eSIM devices locked to their networks.

It would be permissible to lock devices purchased with carrier subsidies, but may prevent carrier locks on phones paid in full at the time of purchase.

Both Verizon and AT&T have acknowledged the ongoing investigation. Verizon spokesman Rich Young has denounced the investigation as "much ado about nothing."

Although carriers are aware that locking consumers in to their networks by preventing expensive hardware from working on competing services can be viewed as anti-competitive, it is not an outright forbidden practice. Consumers are not the only group affected by carrier practices regarding eSIM technology.

Apple has filed complaints with the Justice Department regarding the manner in which carriers are seeking to utilize eSIMs. Hardware manufacturers could be forced to spend more on development and give up some control over their own devices in order to pass carrier certifications needed to operate mobile devices on networks.

Despite there being no global standard for eSIM, there are already a few devices that support the technology. The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL as well as the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE are able to be used without physical SIM cards on major carriers.

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Posts: 1,906   +2,276
And everybody with half a brain who pointed out that companies would absolutely take advantage of a SIM card you cant physically remove get to laugh and say "I told you so!"

eSIm is a dumb idea for consumers.


Posts: 312   +261
What is nice and expected is the carriers reaction. They try to make it look like something unimportant, but it is. That is why I will never ever buy a phone with a subscription. Just buy the phone unlocked and do whatever you want with it.


Posts: 906   +464
Psh typical American problems causing issues for the rest of us. In Canada its been law for a while not that carriers are not allowed to lock devices to a specific network and if a device is locked they will unlock it for free.

That's how it's supposed to work if you want healthy competition instead of just 3 large companies colluding with each other to keep prices high.


Posts: 915   +572
If carriers try to be difficult then they should remove the locking functionality of eSims.