As California firefighters battled the state's largest wildfire, Verizon throttled their data

26 August, 2018, 23:02 | Author: Frank Williams
  • Firefighters battling California's largest fire hit by crippling data slowdown slam Verizon's tactics

The Santa Clara County Fire Department had an unlimited cellular data plan with Verizon.

"As of yesterday, we removed all speed cap restrictions for first responders on the west coast and in Hawaii", Verizon Senior Vice President Mike Maiorana stated Friday.

In that addendum, the Santa Clara County fire department claims that Verizon's speed caps affected an emergency vehicle that it used as a command and control point to help organize resources and people from across the entire state, and even the country, to help battle this wildfire.

"There is an understanding in the agreements between service providers (including Verizon) and the State of Montana that public safety and emergency communications should not be subject to throttling", communications director Amber Conger said in a statement.

Verizon says it had "made a mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan". "In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us". The company promised to lift restrictions on public safety customers and provide full network access when other disasters arise. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward, ' the statement added. The firefighters are now trying to control and put out the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has become the largest wildfire in the state's history.

"Californians who depend on first responders to protect their lives and property were shocked to learn that a cellular service provider could use its pricing policies to hinder the efforts of firefighters in the early hours of the Mendocino Complex Fire", the committee's leaders, Democratic Assembly members Marc Levine of San Rafael and Monique Limon of Santa Barbara said in a joint statement.

Reyes also reiterated the company's position that this throttling had nothing to do with net neutrality-he emphasized that net neutrality had to do with content prioritization or de-prioritization, not data caps.

To make things worse, Bowden adds, "Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling" was curtailing the department's emergency response.

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County lawyers allege that the slowdown, called "throttling", was caused by the FCC's action, which allows telecommunications to slow internet speed to selected customers.

Legislators sent a letter to the CEO of Verizon this afternoon calling for answers and assurances that the safety of first responders, and communities that are threatened by these massive blazes, will not be put in jeopardy so the company can pad their bank accounts.

The county disclosed the problem in a court filing last week supporting a lawsuit brought by 22 state attorneys general seeking to restore net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission.

Santa Clara County Fire Capt. Bill Murphy told CNN that the department's connection speed dropped to what you would expect from a dial-up service, making simple tasks like sending an email or updating a Google document nearly impossible.

As of August 13, wildfires across California had scorched more than 726,000 acres and destroyed at least 2,000 structures, Bowden said in his declaration.

The company did not restore the department's data speeds until the agency upgraded its plan at double the price despite already having an unlimited data plan, he said.

Verizon wasn't playing favorites when it came to the data that the firefighters received.

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