AT&T, Verizon Shares Slip on Report of Justice Department Probe

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(Bloomberg) -- Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. fell on a report that the Justice Department is investigating possible coordination by the two companies and a standards group, part of an effort to make it tougher for consumers to easily switch mobile-phone carriers.

The department issued demands to the companies and the GSMA, a mobile industry standards group, for information on possible collusion to thwart technology called eSIM, the New York Times said Friday, citing six people with knowledge of the matter.

AT&T, which is already fighting the Justice Department’s efforts to block its takeover of Time Warner Inc., fell as much as 1.9 percent to $34.15. Verizon lost as much as 2.5 percent to $47.21.

The eSIM technology lets people switch mobile-phone providers without having to insert a new SIM card into their handset. The phone companies face accusations that they worked with GSMA to establish standards that would let them lock devices to their network even if it had the eSIM technology, the newspaper said.

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