Verizon slowed our data as we fought massive wildfire, chief says

Firefighters battling California's largest fire hit by crippling data slowdown slam Verizon's tactics

The repeal of net neutrality, he said, "allows and encourages" that behavior.

This announcement only came about because Verizon was found to be throttling data on its "unlimited" plan by the Santa Clara County, California fire department.

"The idea that Verizon or another provider can opt in or opt out in helping us do what the public demands is appalling", said Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County supervisor.

In what are now substantiated reports that Verizon Wireless throttled data plans of firefighters while they were battling the Mendocino Complex Fires, California Legislators from across California are calling out the carrier and demanding formal action be taken.

A similar exchange occurred between the two parties on July 5th and 6th, upon which the fire department finally conceded, and was forced to upgrade to the $99.99 plan for the first 20GB of data - over twice the amount they were paying till now - and $8 per GB after that cap was reached. In today's new statement, Verizon apologized to the department and added it has lifted all throttling caps for those firefighters, along with the emergency departments that are now dealing with the effects of Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.

She said the Santa Clara County fire department initially encountered the throttling because it had subscribed to an unlimited data plan for government agencies that reduces speeds after a certain allotment of data is used. "We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward". Company leaders also said they plan to introduce a new plan for emergency responders, with unlimited data and no caps.

The throttling impacted the OES 5262, a fire department vehicle that serves as a mobile command and control center of sorts in order to "track, organize, and prioritize routing of resources from around the state and country to the sites where they are most needed", per Bowden.

Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Tony Bowden wrote to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, saying the data slowdown - known as throttling - "had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services" for firefighters dispatched to the Mendocino Complex wildfires in Northern California. But the Federal Communications Commission also has "transparency rules" that require broadband providers to disclose their traffic management practices to customers.

"It's important for communications providers and public safety agencies to work together closely to ensure that agencies have communications services that meet their needs, especially in emergency situations".

On Friday, Verizon announced in a statement (https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-statement-california-wildfires-and-hurricane-lane-hawaii) that it will temporarily stop all throttling on service for first responders on the West Coast and in Hawaii, to support firefighting efforts and the response to Hurricane Lane.

He blamed an "operational error" for the company's failure to lift the data cap as soon as firefighters called.

"It really truly is meant for the rigors of first responders and how we need it", he said.

'In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. "Verizon imposed these limitations, despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services".

"It's apples and oranges", said Rudy Reyes, Verizon's assistant general counsel in the western USA region.

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