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However, Judge Richard Leon, who will decide if AT&T will be allowed to buy Time Warner, is unlikely to consider a report of potential wrongdoing by the wireless giant because it is irrelevant to the merger trial underway in Washington, said Seth Bloom, a veteran of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

The investigation is said to be focused on AT&T, Verizon and the GSM Association, a London-based group that represents the interests of wireless carriers globally, The New York Times reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The sources further claim that the agency launched its investigation five months ago after receiving tips from a wireless carrier and at least one device maker. The DOJ apparently is investigating whether the carriers looked at each other and said, "This is not cool" because the technology makes leaving for another carrier much easier, Zelin said. AT&T and Verizon stand accused of seeking the ability to keep phone numbers locked to their networks regardless of eSim. "Nothing more." GSMA declined to comment. Verizon has denied any wrongdoing. Delrahim has said the deal will hurt competition and lead to higher prices for cable customers.

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.

Apple has been including eSIM technology in its iPads for some time now, and began offering it with its Series 3 cellular Apple Watches as well.

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This comes as other Patriots rumors suggest Rob Gronkowski could retire amid ongoing tensions with head coach Bill Belichick . The answer apparently as easy as it seemed after the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The person also said the Justice Department previously examined this matter in 2016, but ended up dropping the investigation.

The G.S.M.A., a mobile industry standards-setting group, is also part of the investigation, according to the NY Times.

More recently, the IoT industry has been pushing for eSIM services with the argument that IoT devices can potentially be deployed anywhere in the world, and so therefore need to be able to remotely switch among providers - like when a connected vehicle drives across country lines.

"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 anti-competitive and operate in secrecy", Feld said.