Verizon slowed down firefighters’ internet during California wildfires: court filing

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Verizon officials said they have made multiple policy changes in response to the Santa Clara County fire chief's criticism of the company for throttling data speeds while firefighters were battling the 400,000-acre Mendocino Complex fires.

Murphy said it is unclear whether Verizon's throttling jeopardized the lives or safety of any firefighters.

California lawmakers are considering a bill that would require internet companies to restore net neutrality in California, requiring equal data access to all customers.

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. But Verizon insisted the data caps - which were a feature of the department's low-priced data plan - have no link to net neutrality.

"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. This situation is not that.

'In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. He prefaced his question to Reyes by saying the throttling and net neutrality connections are "conflated" and "different issues".

The above reports have been compiled and submitted as addendum evidence in a lawsuit filed by 22 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Flato, Verizon's spokesperson, insisted, "This situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court".

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"It is unacceptable for communications providers to deceive their customers, but when the consumer in question is a government entity tasked with fire and emergency services, we can't afford to wait a moment longer", the letter says.

Verizon is offering an olive branch after royally fumbling how it dealt with emergency responders in California. The new plan rolls out nationwide next week, but was granted immediately for Washington, California and OR because of devastating summer wildfires and for Hawaii, which Friday was bracing for Hurricane Lane, a Category 2 storm. Today, the nation's biggest wireless carrier revealed that it will launch this new unlimited plan next week, "with no caps on mobile solutions".

"This is not a reaction to Santa Clara", she said.

In the emails, Verizon accounts manager Silas Buss initially suggested Bowden's staff should upgrade to a $39.99 unlimited data plan in early July, before the Mendocino Complex fires, in order to restore data speeds that were being reduced under the terms of their existing plan. "And we're making every effort to ensure that it never happens again", he added.

Chief Bowden and Verizon representatives are slated to speak at the hearing. "I really truly hope there is a greater partnership (with cellular providers) where this does not happen with any public agency".

The Mendocino fire which began on July 27 has consumed almost 407,000 acres, or roughly half the size of Rhode Island, and as of Wednesday it was 74 per cent contained.

He added that the company plans to introduce a new "unlimited data" plan next week.

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