Fire dept. rejects Verizon’s “customer support mistake” excuse for throttling

Enlarge / A West Covina firefighter pulls a hose away from a horse barn that burns as the Mendocino Complex Fire moves through the area on July 31, 2018 in Lakeport, California. (credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan)

yesterday acknowledged that it shouldn’t have continued throttling Santa Clara County Fire Department’s “unlimited” data service while the department was battling the Mendocino Complex Fire. Verizon said the department had chosen an unlimited data plan that gets throttled to speeds of 200kbps or 600kbps after using 25GB a month but that Verizon failed to follow its policy of “remov[ing] data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations.”

“This was a customer support mistake” and not a net neutrality issue, Verizon said.

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Verizon throttled fire department’s “unlimited” data during Calif. wildfire

Enlarge / A firefighter battling the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, 2018 near Lodoga, California. (credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan )

Santa Clara fire department has responded to Verizon’s claim that the throttling was just a customer service error and “has nothing to do with net neutrality.” To the contrary, “Verizon’s throttling has everything to do with net neutrality,” a county official said.

Verizon Wireless’ throttling of a fire department that uses its data services has been submitted as evidence in a lawsuit that seeks to reinstate federal net neutrality rules.

“County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon,” Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration. “This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services.”

Bowden’s declaration was submitted in an addendum to a brief 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. The government agencies are seeking to overturn the recent repeal of net neutrality rules in a lawsuit they filed against the Federal Communications Commission in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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