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    • It looks like the fire department had quite a battle with Verizon over their unlimited plan, because it had a clause that allowed them to throttle when the fire department got above 25GB of transfer. The fire department claimed the throttling was so severe, it rendered the line nearly useless. Verizon said they'd lift the throttling if they upgraded their account, but the IT department didn't have authorization and were in the middle of an emergency.

      ARS Technica has a pretty detailed account of the whole saga, which is being entered as evidence for the states who are filing suit to overturn the government's recent net neutrality decision.

      Here's what I'm not getting: was this really part of that decision? Because it seemed like they had the right to throttle before. It seems as though after the decision, they got bolder and throttled more severely.

      Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

    • This is really crappy behavior by Verizon that may have put lives and property at risk, but I'm also not sure I understand what it has to do with net neutrality.

      The repealed net neutrality rules might have applied if Verizon were selectively blocking or throttling specific services or sites and charging more to unthrottle them, but in this case it looks like they were imposing global throttling at the account level as part of the faux unlimited service plan the fire department subscribed to, which is something that carriers have been doing for ages.

    • I'm both shocked and angered by such behavior from Verizon and their customer support. Even though they have since acknowledged their mistake and appologized for it. This makes me wonder about all of the other legitimate cases that haven't received as much press.

      The difference of $2.00 for a plan while throttling down to 1/200 of a speed. Who does that?

      On June 29, Fire Captain Justin Stockman wrote an email to Verizon, noting that download speeds for an essential device used during large disasters had been throttled from 50Mbps to about 30kbps.

      A Verizon government accounts manager named Silas Buss responded, saying that the fire department would have to move from a $37.99 plan to a $39.99 plan "to get the data speeds restored on this device." Later, Buss suggested that the department switch to a plan that cost at least $99.99 a month.

      Stockman didn't have authority to upgrade the plan...

    • Maybe next time there's a fire at a Verizon facility, the fire trucks should drive there at two miles an hour and the fire fighters be forced to take public transport.

      As others have said, this is simply outrageous corporate behavior, but I don't see that net neutrality is a factor. They are screwing everybody equally. Actually, giving emergency responders priority traffic might be one good reason to violate net neutrality.

    • “Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations,” Flato [Verizon Spokes Person] said. “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.”


      Though the act of slowing speeds seems atrocious, in Verizon's defense, I wonder if this was a corner case that the Verizon support agent was not equipped to handle.

      I say this because I know Verizon deploys mobile cell towers in times of emergency, free of charge, to aid firefighters. They even provide internet access points to residents and firefights in evacuation zones, free of charge, even for non-Verizon users.

      I think this is both not related to net neutrality and a good story because the media manipulated the true story.

      Version cell mobile towers that they actually deploy below.

    • It's tough to separate facts and reasons in such trying times. Certainly, it makes for a bold headline (I am quite a Verizon critic) but maybe the FD should have paid the buck to ensure their data wasn't throttled? As posted ^, I'm not so sure this is a net neutrality issue as much it is an account access issue.

    • I am far from a Verizon supporter, but I'm pretty sure these crews fought fires before smartphones, or even cell phones came out. Radios are still used, I'm guessing. I'm not sure this is completely correct to blow up over Verizon at this, other than for the obvious fallacy of their "unlimited" offering, which is anything but.

    • I have to imagine though that broadband internet access increases productivity, especially as fires super fires become ubiquitous. Coordinating 10,000 firefighters, dozens of aircraft and hundreds of vehicles over hundreds of thousands of acres is like commanding a battlefield at war. Intel is key to making effective decisions. An example is that they precisely update maps of fire boundary and containment line to keep both firefighters and residents safe. So I believe Bowden when he says:

      “This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services,”

      Props to them for once doing that over the radio. And props to Calfire for embracing technology.