By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Monday questioned a Verizon executive about the company’s decision to always pre-install Google’s Chrome browser with Google search on its mobile phones, as the government sought to show that Alphabet’s Google broke antitrust law to maintain its dominance in online search.

Brian Higgins, a 28-year Verizon veteran who was on a team from 2017 to 2023 that struck deals with Google to pick software to preload onto the carrier’s phones, testified in a federal court in Washington: “To the best of my knowledge, I believe it is pre-installed all the time.”

The government argues Google’s $10 billion in payments annually to mobile carriers and others helped the California-based tech giant win powerful default positions on smartphones and elsewhere, which fed data into other lucrative parts of its business, such as online advertising.

In the first week of one of the biggest U.S. antitrust trials in decades, James Kolotouros,…

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