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Letter from public interest groups to GSMA regarding mobile device ownership rights

Consumers Union joined with the Center for Democracy & Technology and Public Knowledge in sending a letter to the mobile industry standards-setting body GSMA on April 25, 2018, to raise concerns about possible standards that could restrict consumers’ ability to unlock their mobile devices and switch to another carrier.  The groups asked GSMA to provide information about its efforts to develop standards for new eSIM technology for switching carriers. The groups said they had been informed that some phone carriers are seeking to put into these standards anticompetitive restrictions on consumers’ ability to transfer eSIM phones from one carrier to another. They noted that the Department of Justice was reportedly investigating this as a potential violation of the antitrust laws.
The groups stated, “We believe that the GSMA has an obligation to respect ownership rights for individuals that give them the ability to freely choose to transfer their device to a different carrier’s network. As a result, we are writing to request more information about the regulation of eSIM cards and to ask GSMA to commit to ensuring that all users are able to port their devices across compatible networks.”