Verizon makes changes as lawmakers decry firefighters' woes

27 August, 2018, 14:59 | Author: Julian Harrison
  • Firefighters battling California's largest fire hit by crippling data slowdown slam Verizon's tactics

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a dozen other House Democrats have written the Federal Trade Commission looking for an investigation into Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) limiting of data speeds for firefighters battling the California wildfires. This situation is that a customer reached its prescribed limit of its contractual data plan and the data was reduced.

Some say the issue highlights concerns of net-neutrality supporters, that allowing companies to manipulate their networks can have adverse, unexpected consequences.

Verizon officials said this week, however, the slowdown had nothing to do with net neutrality rules, but occurred because the department had exceeded its allotted amount of high-speed wireless data included in its service plan.

"In supporting first responders in the Mendocino fire, we didn't live up to our own promise of service", he said in a statement.

The controversy began this week when a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general asked a federal appeals court to block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overturning its 2015 net neutrality rules.

Contrary to multiple media reports, Santa Clara County did not subscribe to the proposed $99.99-per-month plan, which would have covered the first 20 GB of data use and then charged an additional $8 per GB used, without be subject to data throttling, Williams said.

After Verizon admitted that it slowed the fire department's data - a despised practice known as throttling - but claimed it was a simple mistake that "has nothing to do with net neutrality", Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams responded in astatementon behalf of the fire department on Wednesday that "Verizon's throttling has everything to do with net neutrality". As a result, we're introducing a new plan that will feature unlimited data, with no caps on mobile solutions and automatically includes priority access. Under the department's plan with Verizon, speed caps might be hit if data use goes over 25GB before the monthly billing period ends.

Limon referenced the Thomas Fire, which burned over 280,000 acres in her district in December 2017.

A nationwide telecommunications company rolled out changes Friday as state lawmakers said they were outraged to learn that Verizon slowed Northern California firefighters' internet service while they battled what became the state's largest-ever wildfire.

Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden said emergency personnel heavily relies on Internet services to monitor fast-moving fires and coordinate resources.

Chief Bowden and Verizon representatives are slated to speak at the hearing.

He says he saw the writing on the wall on this issue previous year, and six months ago, filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission over cell companies common practice of throttling, or "speed capping", data.

"This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services", according to Bowden's declaration. "For that, we are truly sorry".

He blamed an "operational error" for the company's failure to lift the data cap as soon as firefighters called. "We stand united and will work together to ensure this risky practice of throttling first responders will never happen again here in the Golden State".

Murphy says the department still uses Verizon and has added a second provider to ensure redundancies in their system.

"In large and complex fires, resource allocation requires immediate information", he wrote.



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