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.
If it was up to carriers however users will not be able to hop from one carrier network to another, in the same way as users can currently hop from one WIFI network to another.
According to the Times a device maker, named as Apple, and an unnamed carrier has complained to the Justice Department, saying that USA’s two biggest carriers, AT&T and Verizon, and the GSMA standards body was colluding to allow carriers to lock down e-SIM devices to a single carrier, preventing easy portability of service.
An active investigation has now been in play for 5 months with Verizon saying it was “much ado about nothing” and AT&T being eager to “move this issue forward.”
Verizon claimed it needed to be able to lock down phones to prevent theft and fraud, but Ferras Vinh, a policy expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology noted: “The actions would limit choice for consumers and harm competition.”
For Always-Connected PCs being unable to lock down e-SIM devices may be a mixed blessing. One the one hand it would make it easier to purchase data wherever your travels take you, and always have the best signal no-matter who your primary provider is, but on the other hand it may make carriers reluctant to subsidize ACPC devices, who tend to be more expensive than a similar device without a WLAN modem.
Read more detail on the charges at the Times here.