Fire Chief says Verizon has smothered data from departments in the midst of massive Cali forest fires. • The register

Verizon has been accused of having interrupted the data plan of a California fire brigade during the worst natural disasters in the state.

Chief Anthony Bowden of the central fire department of Santa Clara County says that [PDF] while the Incident Support Unit (OES 5262) ​​of its department worked to coordinate efforts to combat the massive Mendocino Complex Fire, Verizon delayed their data plan to a trickle, potentially jeopardizing public safety.

"In the middle of our response to the Mendocino Complex Fire, County Fire discovered that the data connection for OES 5262 was stifled by Verizon and the data rates were reduced to 1/200 or less than the previous speeds," Bowden said. in his statement.

"These reduced speeds severely hampered the ability of the OES 5262 to function effectively."

Worse, Bowden says, even after his department contacted Verizon and informed them of the situation, the telco admitted that he had smothered the connection and would not restore the bandwidth of the emergency services unless they agreed to buying an upgraded service plan.

After having trusted the ISPs of other data transmission and communication departments, Bowden said Verizon eventually repaired the service of Santa Clara County Fire – at double the cost.

"In the light of our experience, County Fire believes that Verizon will likely continue to use the fatal nature of emergency public security and catastrophic events to force public authorities to higher cost plans, which will ultimately pay significantly more for mission-critical service – even if this means that public security is compromised during negotiations ", writes Bowden.


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Bowden's letter was submitted as part of the supporting evidence to support the ongoing challenge that Mozilla has made with the recent FCC decision to withdraw from net neutrality protection in the US.

Verizon said in a statement The register that the problem had nothing to do with the net neutrality case and was a customer service remedy.

"We made a mistake in the way we communicated with our customer about the terms of the plan." Like all customers, fire brigades choose their best service contracts. "This customer bought a government contract for a rapid assignment of wireless data at a fixed monthly cost. Under this plan, users receive an unlimited amount of data, but the speeds are reduced when they exceed their allocation until the next billing cycle, & # 39; Verizon statement.

"Regardless of the plan that health care professionals choose, we are in the habit of removing data speed limitations when contacting emergency situations, which we have often done, including for emergency services responding to these tragic fires." Speed ​​limitation when our customer contacted us. an error in customer support, we are reviewing the situation and will solve any problems in the future. "®

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