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California to hold hearing on why Verizon throttled mobile data for firefighters

By William Gayde · 11 replies
Aug 24, 2018
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  1. Members of the California State Assembly are meeting today in an effort to discover why Verizon throttled the mobile data speeds for firefighters in Santa Clara County. Verizon had previously said it was a customer service error but fire officials and lawmakers aren't buying that. The hearing will include comments from fire department staff and Verizon representatives.

    While fighting the Mendocino Complex fire, a Santa Clara Fire Department vehicle had its data speed throttled to 1/200th of its normal speed. Firefighters use this vehicle and cloud service like Google Docs to coordinate response efforts as fire conditions change. The department did have an unlimited plan, but once they went over their 25GB of high-speed data, they were throttled.

    Despite requests to Verizon to remove the throttling for public safety purposes, Verizon instead tried to sell the department a more expensive plan without throttling.

    The goal of today's hearing is to answer three key questions regarding Verizon's actions. In a statement to local reporters at The Mercury News, Marc Levine, a member of the Select Committee on Natural Disaster, Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding, stated that "we need to know exactly what happened during the Mendocino Complex Fire. We need to know why they were throttled, why it continued and why it was not resolved. The Mendocino Complex Fire was not a fire drill. This was unforgivable.”

    California legislators are considering new policies to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future. They will also explore whether or not the state of California could have intervened on the department's behalf.

    Fire Chief Anthony Bowden believes the Trump Administration's repeal of net neutrality legislation is what allowed Verizon to throttle the connection in the first place. However, Levine likely won't bring up that topic in today's hearing.

    Permalink to story.

  2. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Guru Posts: 414   +265

    Verizon being shady about their services, there's a shocker.
  3. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,008   +3,503

    Probably something along the lines of "What's wrong with ringing every last penny out of a dying man" mentality. If it's not strictly illegal under law, what exactly is stopping ISPs and phone companies from extorting emergency services? If it can be exploited, it will be.
  4. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 876   +372

    From what I could find whoever set them up on that specific plan didn't do there job, don't know whether it was Verizon rep or there IT person or both. Verizon(most of the Cellular companies actually) have a business plan designed specifically for emergency services, it has no caps and no throttling. These guys were on the standard (small) business plan which has the normal cap then throttle system. Still crap customer service on Verizon's end when the calls where made, and that should be evaluated. But this should be a reminder to all the emergency services to double check there plans and make sure they won't go through the same issues. Also as pointed out in the other article's comments for communication why are they using cellular and not a more reliable and proven radio system on Californian fires?
  5. Silvernine

    Silvernine TS Enthusiast Posts: 46   +40

    There was another article somewhere where apparently they did use a mix of radio and private devices as backup for communication. However, their primary issue wasn't communication (they had backup systems for that) but the fact that they needed internet access for a command and control department vehicle that is used to keep track, organize, and prioritize resources for fire fighting and the software for that relies on internet through an ISP. That department vehicle uses a SIM card for internet connectivity.
  6. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 826   +411

    Firefighters signed the contract! They agreed to throttled data after using their limited fast megabytes.
    That sounds wrong what Verizon did, but that's withing the agreement. Give hospitals police and firefighters discounted internet by law, but dont blame a typical greedy company which doesnt break any laws in this case.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,008   +3,503

    It doesn't matter what the contract says when State and Federal law override any contractual rules. It's illegal to impede emergency services, period.
  8. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +163

    I hope trump really looks into this and does something about this. This is one reason why companies shouldn't have control of your imaginary data. data caps? who made that up? is there a giant spot in Antarctica with all of our other government supplies that contains 1........giant block...........of limited data.......lol. speed limits? thanks for being a jew and not building more towers but instead choosing to limit my speed instead. those billions are just too hard to spend huh :'(. companies like these need some sort of consequence for their dictatorship like qualities. especially verizon lol. sprint can be next. those jerk asses tell me where I should have signal but I don't and neither does anyone else lol. build a better tower. my grand pappy used to always tell me if you're not going to do it right then why waste the time? hey trump fix the isps telling me I have data caps too. oh and fix the fact that my cell phone that offers way less data than my isp costs me more money. its slower with less data. im no genious but something is just completely wrong with the wireless industry as a whole and someone needs to fix it.
  9. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,160   +1,413

    Really? they aren't buying that? So we're supposed to believe that Verizon is trying to spread wildfires?

    The firefighters got their data throttled because they went over the cap. I'm sure it's automatic - Verizon doesn't call you up before the throttle triggers to ask if you're doing something 'really important'.
  10. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,008   +3,503

    They actually called Verizon up so this is a case of more then just an automatic system.
  11. seefizzle

    seefizzle TS Evangelist Posts: 415   +288

    Eventually we're going to figure out that profit at all costs isn't the answer.
  12. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,397   +303

    Fire department's fault for buying a 25GB limited plan. should have opted for an unlimited data plan.

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