The Justice Department is investigating whether AT&T and Verizon colluded with a wireless standards organization to make it harder for consumers to switch phone carriers, according to The New York Times.
The inquiry is also reportedly targeting the GSMA, a wireless trade group.
The investigation was opened about five months ago after at least one device maker and one wireless carrier filed formal complaints with the Justice Department, two of the people said.
eSIMs are at the heart of Microsoft's Always-Connected PC initiative, and Windows 10 Redstone 4 is set to make it easy to buy data plans from carriers simply by downloading an app from the Microsoft Store, similar to how one can buy a WIFI data plan.
An AT&T spokesman said the company was "aware of the investigation", had provided information to the government for it and was working "to move this issue forward".
The Justice Department is investigating an alleged case of collusion, but this has nothing to do with President Donald J. Trump and Russian Federation. The Justice Department originally followed up on a complaint made by Apple in 2016, but ended up dropping the investigation. Verizon has denied any wrongdoing.More news: Battlefield 5 Battle Royale Mode Rumored Ahead of EA Play Reveal
"This accusations regarding this issue are much a do about nothing", he said in a statement.
The US government has argued in a trial that is nearing completion that the proposed deal would spur AT&T to charge its pay TV rivals more for Time Warner content.
Consumer advocates support the idea of an electronic SIM card, which is in the process of being rolled out, since it allows phone owners to bargain hunt and contract with any network or to shift networks easily while traveling, said Feld. Bloomberg notes that Apple was the manufacturer in question, while "several" others later voiced concerns about the practice to the Justice Department.
MacRumors covered Apple Watch 3 with LTE and eSIM cards having problems with AT&T going back to last September.
"There is a constant problem with industry standards-setting organizations that on the one hand allow the industry to come together for the objective of efficiency but can be very anticompetitive and operate in secrecy", consumer advocate Harold Feld tells the Times.
"There is a constant problem with industry standards-setting organizations that on the one hand allow the industry to come together for the goal of efficiency but can be very anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said.