Unlike traditional SIM cards, which are typically carrier specific, eSIM would let mobile customers switch between the major carriers simply by changing software, according to Moffett.
"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.
The Department and AT&T declined to comment on the report and Verizon could not be immediately reached for comment. 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. Combined, Verizon and AT&T both provide wireless service to the majority of mobile phone users in the US. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department didn't respond to a request seeking comment. Investigators from the Justice Department reportedly issued demands for information from AT&T, Verizon, and the GSMA in February.
AT&T and Verizon together control about 70 percent of all wireless subscriptions in the United States.
AT&T is also facing an antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department over its $85 billion merger with Time Warner.
Verizon spokesman Richard Young brushed off the investigation and said the company has been "proactively and constructively working with the Justice Department for several months".
The investigation highlights a push by the Justice Department's antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, to crack down on the opaque world of intellectual property, or IP, standards.
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. "The DOJ must investigate this alleged collusion swiftly to protect the rights of American consumers".
While the government is investigating the matter of collusion which involves AT&T, we also learned today in a court case with the government, that the government believes AT&T's proposed low cost mobile TV service called "Watch" will hurt consumers.