Telecommunications standards organization GSMA on Saturday said it it putting the development of the latest version of the eSIM specification is on hold pending the completion of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ).
The DoJ probe alleges coordination between the group, AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc to hinder consumers from easily switching wireless carriers.
The GSMA, working with mobile operators, device makers and SIM manufacturers worldwide, is facilitating the development of a universal standard for eSIM that will be deployed globally.
This standard contains a wide range of features, including the option for the eSIM to be locked. ESIM allows consumers to switch wireless providers without having to insert a new physical SIM card. That makes it easier to compare wireless networks and easily select a new service when desired. In the United States, consumers would have this option; however, they would need to explicitly consent to this under specific commercial agreements with their mobile operator, for example when purchasing a subsidised device.
The GSMA added that it was cooperating fully with the Department of Justice.
Verizon on Friday called the probe "much ado about nothing," adding it has been working with the Justice Department for several months "regarding the inquiry," . AT&T also indicated it was they are working with the Justice Department.
The probe comes are Apple and other equipment makers have complained to the Justice Department about wireless carrier practices related to eSIM technology.