Verizon lifts all speed restrictions for first responders after throttling Calif. firefighters

Utah firefighter Matt Burchett 42 who died fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire in California is honored in Salt Lake City on Aug. 15. Burchett was hit by a falling tree

Cal Fire firefighters monitor a back fire as they battle the Medocino Complex fire on August 7, 2018 near Lodoga, California.

Krekorian's motion also raised concerns about members of the general public being throttled during emergencies and said that although Verizon has changed its policies, it "doesn't reflect the complexity of an emergency situation and the needs of the pubic in a disaster: what about the thousands of people who may be turning to their phones for evacuation orders who may be similarly, artificially throttled as a result of carrier plan design who may be unable to access life-saving information about a disaster?" Chief Bowden's complaint dealt with the process of filing complaints with the FCC, which became harder with the lifting of net neutrality rules.

But Verizon said in a statement that "this situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court".

Verizon Senior Vice President Mike Maiorana says Verizon will lift data restrictions and provide full network access to first responders during disasters.

The subject of the suit was a request from 22 state attorneys general and the attorney general for the District of Columbia to overturn the FCC's repeal of net neutrality.

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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.

In the wake of a customer-service backlash involving California firefighters, Verizon is apologizing for slowing down the data speeds of first-responders - and says it will begin offering emergency workers a new unlimited data plan to avoid future mishaps. Verizon only agreed to restore high-speed connections to the fire department after the county agreed to purchase a more expensive plan, Bowden said.

The new rules allow companies to limit access to customers who have reached certain data limits.

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.

KQED radio reported Wednesday that Verizon acknowledged it wrongly limited data speed to the Santa Clara County Fire Department while firefighters helped battle the state's largest-ever wildfire in Mendocino County three weeks ago. Instead, a Verizon representative told the county to upgrade to a more expensive package.

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The department was forced to use other agencies' internet service providers, and some personnel had to use their personal devices for connectivity, Bowden said.

He blamed an "operational error" for the company's failure to lift the data cap as soon as firefighters called.

The addendum said that the department discovered Verizon's data throttling, which it claimed "severely interfered" with the emergency vehicle's ability to work properly. "For that, we are truly sorry".

"It's apples and oranges", said Rudy Reyes, Verizon's assistant general counsel in the western US region. He said he hoped Verizon and other providers will provide assurances this will never happen again and asked state lawmakers to "harden our infrastructure to protect cell towers" against wildfires, which assist both first responders and evacuees.

The mobile command center described in the declaration, known as "OES Incident Support Unit 5262", was responsible for coordinating all the local government resources deployed to the Mendocino Complex Fire, Bowden wrote.

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