Verizon Says Throttling CA Firefighters During Wildfire Was a ‘Mistake’

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Verizon says it made a mistake when the carrier slowed the wireless data speed for a California fire department during the Mendocino Complex Fire.

Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden said in a sworn statement this week as part of a legal effort to restore Net Neutrality rules, the limitation “severely interfered” with its ability to work, reported The Washington Post. The department went over its data limits and notified Verizon there was an emergency, according to Bowden.

“Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but, rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan,” stated Bowden.

In a statement, Verizon said it erred and should have lifted the data speed restrictions. “We made a mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan. Like all customers, fire departments choose service plans that are best for them,” said the carrier. “This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. Under this plan, users get an unlimited amount of data but speeds are reduced when they exceed their allotment until the next billing cycle.”

The carrier said, “regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations. We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires.” Verizon said it should have lifted the speed restriction when contacted by the fire department customer. It’s reviewing the situation and “will fix any issues going forward.”

August 24, 2018     

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