Verizon Throttled California Fire Department's Data Speeds During Wildfire Response [Updated]

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Verizon recently throttled the data used by a Santa Clara, California fire department that was in the midst of fighting wildfires, reports Ars Technica. Verizon's actions were outlined this week in an addendum to a brief filed by 22 state attorneys challenging the recent repeal of net neutrality rules.

    According to Santa Clara County Fire Department Fire Chief Anthony Bowden, the fire department paid Verizon for "unlimited" data, but its data speeds were heavily throttled while it was combating the still-ongoing Mendocino Complex Fire until the department shelled out more money for an upgraded unlimited plan.


    Verizon's data throttling policies affected "OES 5262," a fire vehicle with a Verizon SIM card that is responsible for acting as a "command and control resource" for "the rapid deployment and organization of thousands of personnel and hundreds of fire engines, aircraft, and bulldozers." Data speeds were reduced to 1/200, interfering with the vehicle's ability to "function effectively."

    Santa Clara Fire communicated with Verizon via email about the throttling and requested that it be "immediately lifted for public safety purposes," but Verizon staff demanded the fire department update to a new plan before service could be restored.
    As Ars Technica points out, even when net neutrality rules were in effect, major carriers imposed throttling during times of network congestion. The fire department claims, however, that it was throttled at all times (not just at peak congestion) once the vehicle's 25GB data limit was exceeded.

    Net neutrality rules also allowed for Internet users to file complaints for unjust or unreasonable prices and practices, but the complaint option has been eliminated, giving Santa Clara no options for contacting the FCC over Verizon's practices.

    Bowden said that Verizon's throttling had a "significant impact" on the fire department's ability to provide emergency services. The Mendocino fire was also not the only time Verizon's throttling limited fire services, with other incidents occurring in December and June.

    According to Bowden, the Santa Clara Fire Department believes that Verizon is going to continue to use catastrophic events to force public agencies into higher-cost data plans.
    After a long series of emails (PDF) with Verizon, the Santa Clara Fire Department was ultimately required to purchase a data plan that costs $99.99 per month for the first 20GB of data usage and $8 per gigabyte afterwards to avoid throttling during emergencies.

    Update: Verizon provided the following statement to The Verge:
    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Verizon Throttled California Fire Department's Data Speeds During Wildfire Response [Updated]
  2. AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Maybe Trump can do us a favor for once and go after these crooks. Oh wait...
  3. asdavis10 macrumors 6502


    Feb 3, 2008
    Verizon doing what Verizon does. At least they are consistent no matter who the customer is.
  4. filmantopia macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2010
    Wow, this is just evil. I.e. standard practice for most massive corporations.
  5. casperes1996 macrumors 68040


    Jan 26, 2014
    Horsens, Denmark
    "A house is burning down, let's ****ing handle payment afterwards, and just let me fix this ****"

    "Put the flames on pause and give me them juicy credit card details already!"

    What is wrong with this world?
  6. e-coli, Aug 21, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018

    e-coli macrumors 68000


    Jul 27, 2002
    Verizon Unlimited*

    *not unlimited.

    Now that their abuse of the English language cost lives and property, will they pay a price?
  7. lunarworks macrumors 68000

    Jun 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    Some corporations just want to watch the world burn.
  8. Will.O.Bie, Aug 21, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018

    Will.O.Bie macrumors 6502


    Aug 29, 2016
    At least they're consistent in their company ways...
  9. bradl macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2008
    Ouch. And all Trump has said about this is "Blame Canada! We wouldn't be having these fires if their lumber weren't so expensive!!!"

    Trump and Pai are going to be put in the hotseat for this.

  10. chucker23n1 macrumors 68020


    Dec 7, 2014
    This may be predatory corporate behavior, and there’s a market concentration problem in cellular probiders, arguably, but I fail to see what this story has to do with net neutrality.
  11. Sefstah macrumors 6502a

    Dec 21, 2015
    And some people will still try to justify this!
  12. 212rikanmofo, Aug 21, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018

    212rikanmofo macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
    It's true what alternative/independent news media have been talking about all along. These evil corporations are under controlled by the ones at the top of the pyramid. Corporations can now act as a government and screw people over like this if they think it's going to hurt their earnings. This is really corrupt and we are slowly losing our rights and freedom to the government and now soon to be Corporations as well. Because why? Think about it. Who owns all these rich and powerul corporations? Who owns the government, the media, schools, universities, publishing companies. People really need to wake up.
  13. cwanja, Aug 21, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018

    cwanja macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    See nothing wrong with this. This is business. If you want to prevent this, have redundant data providers and do not blow through your data. If you do, understand the consequences of those actions. If you know you are going through 22GB of data in a "command center", then make it part of your day 0 or day 1 action plan in a crisis to upgrade the plan. It is a flip of a switch on Verizon's end so all it takes is a phone call.

    California wants an exception. Then Canada wants an exception. Then Joe down the streets wants an exception. Good on Verizon for standing their ground.

    Also this has nothing to do with Net Neutrality, so why even bring it up? This would not have been "prevented" even if Net Neutrality was still in place.
  14. WiseAJ macrumors 6502


    Sep 8, 2009
    Can’t wait until T-Mobile and Sprint merge so uncarrier can really compete with these crooks/villains.
  15. gertruded, Aug 21, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018

    gertruded macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    Northwestern Illinois
    The real charactor of the American corporation exposed. No one should be surprised by the way Verison acted. Money is all they focus on. That is what they were created to do.
  16. e-coli macrumors 68000


    Jul 27, 2002
    Also, this makes no sense.
  17. 341328 Suspended

    Jul 18, 2009
    If you need consistently high speed as a mission critical operation, then that'll cost you more (as it should).
  18. _Refurbished_ macrumors 68000


    Mar 23, 2007
    America’s Most Flamable Network

    “Root” metrics said Verizon lit up more cell towers this week the all other carriers combined.

    No need for data buckets, they need to start giving out water buckets.
  19. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    The fire department might consider switching to FirstNet. It's a huge contract that AT&T has with the federal government to provide priority and preemption to public safety agencies on the cellular network.
    FirstNet is not without it's own debatable facets, but it might have prevented the issue they had with Verizon.
  20. jclo Editor


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    Sorry, typo there! Been fixed. $8 per GB after 20GB of data usage.
  21. orev macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2015
    Allowing companies to advertise "unlimited" where they get to redefine that word however they like is FRAUD, plain and simple. It always has been, and this is not a net neutrality issue -- it's a false advertising one.
  22. Bozley0621 macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2009
    Silly them for being so chatty.
  23. JPack macrumors 601


    Mar 27, 2017
  24. jclo Editor


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    Just a heads up, post updated with VZW's statement:

    "This situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court. We made a mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan. Like all customers, fire departments choose service plans that are best for them. The customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. Under this plan, users get an unlimited amount of data, but speeds are reduced when they exceed their allotment until the next billing cycle.

    Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations. We have done that many times, including for emergency personnel responding to these tragic fires. In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward."

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