Verizon throttled California fire department's data as it fought wildfires

Posted:
in General Discussion
A net neutrality complaint claims the Santa Clara County Fire Department had its data throttled by Verizon as it acted to put out California's raging Mendocino wildfire, an action the company later said was a mistake.

Santa Clarita Fire Department


Despite paying for unlimited data, the Santa Clara County Fire Department's data was throttled by Verizon Wireless, even as the department fought the Mendocino Complex fire earlier this month.

According to Ars Technica, the department has alleged the throttling as part of a multistate lawsuit seeking to block the FCC's reversal of net neutrality rules.

"County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon," Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration."This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services."

It goes on to allege that the department needed to pay more to Verizon in order to stop the throttling, even as it fought the fires. A similar situation had taken place during the fighting of two previous fires last year.

Verizon admitted, in a statement, to Ars, that it mishandled the situation.

"In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us," Verizon said. "This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward Like all customers, fire departments choose service plans that are best for them. This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost."

The throttling incident all happened following the official end of net neutrality in June.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 358member
    Not related to net neutrality whatever the submitted brief. Customer service  contracts have limits and consequences for exceeding those limits extending way before and beyond net neutrality. 

    Verizon also noted that the fire department purchased a data service plan that is slowed down after a data usage threshold is reached.”

    edited August 2018 entropystallest skilracerhomie3randominternetpersonanton zuykovmwhiteols[Deleted User]longpathmike1
  • Reply 2 of 36
    Verizon's customer support credibility: Zero.
    Oops, you abused the wrong customer. Now it's a meme.
    Q: What's more important? Coordinating citizen emergency services? Or abusing customers with bandwidth throttling?
    A: Throttling of course! It's the corporatocracy thing to do!

    Shameful.
    tmayolsdavgregbshankrepressthisdysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 36
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,849member
    This has nothing to do with net neutrality, but the inappropriate phone contract County Fire chose with Verizon. Verizon, as you would expect, handled this badly, becuase it is Verizon. But really, wtf was Santa Clara doing buying a contract for emergency services that included throttling after a certain bandwidth was used?

    So to cover up its mistake, County Fire has sent out the distraction squirrel of net neutrality. The political operatives in charge must think the average Californian is an idiot.
    tallest skilrandominternetpersonanton zuykovmwhite[Deleted User]longpathmike1jbdragonrwesnouser
  • Reply 4 of 36
    entropys said:
    This has nothing to do with net neutrality, but the inappropriate phone contract County Fire chose with Verizon. Verizon, as you would expect, handled this badly, becuase it is Verizon. But really, wtf was Santa Clara doing buying a contract for emergency services that included throttling after a certain bandwidth was used?

    So to cover up its mistake, County Fire has sent out the distraction squirrel of net neutrality. The political operatives in charge must think the average Californian is an idiot.
    Am I wrong, but don't all Verizon plans throttle after a certain point, just the "unlimited" throttle at like 50 GB or something.
    bshankjbdragonrepressthisnouserdysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 36
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,849member
    Yes, County Fire beancounters took out an inappropriate phone contract for a fire service.

    Edit; I say this as natural disaster reponse is my job: it is shockingly poor risk management to rely on the phone company changing settings for data access in the middle of a crisis. Too much could go wrong at many steps in the process. It is something that should never be a consideration, because the likelihood of a glitch happening somewhere along the decision/action chain is too high for the potential consequences. If it is claimed money is the issue, let the head honchos do without corporate lunches at the monthly meetings.

    blaming Verizon for a stuff up is like asking why a dog sniffs another dog’s backside. Trying to launch the net neutrality distraction squirrel is contemptible. Bottom line the fire department failed in its risk assessment process.
    edited August 2018 holysmokesmwhiteols[Deleted User]longpathjasenj1nouser
  • Reply 6 of 36
    You know what!

    I blame both Santa Clara County Fire Department (SCCFD) and Verizon.  SCCFD should have looked for the worst-case-scenario for their data usage and Verizon should have cleared the SCCFD data limits as both a public service and good will service.

    On some rare 
    occasions, contracts aren't set in stone.  Yeah, the lawyers might think otherwise.
    anton zuykovchasmolslongpathartharg
  • Reply 7 of 36
    macseeker said:
    You know what!

    I blame both Santa Clara County Fire Department (SCCFD) and Verizon.  SCCFD should have looked for the worst-case-scenario for their data usage and Verizon should have cleared the SCCFD data limits as both a public service and good will service.

    On some rare occasions, contracts aren't set in stone.  Yeah, the lawyers might think otherwise.
    Less blame on verizon, as they did not specifically know who the clients were. It was a single rule that gets applied to everyone. As for SCCFD , that is a different story, as they knew who would be using those data plans.
    edited August 2018 mwhitelongpath
  • Reply 8 of 36
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,667member
    Did you guys miss the part of the story where Verizon is supposed to lift caps in an emergency or when contacted by emergency services? This is 100 percent on them for a) not automatically offering throttle-free data lines to emergency services, as de facto SOP and b) not trying their response staff properly, and c) milking the govt and taxpayer dollars for shitty contracts that — were providers regulated as public utilities — would always have provided service to authorized emergency services completely free of charge.
    tmaydavgregderekcurriebshankarthargjasenj1repressthisroundaboutnowzoetmbCarnage
  • Reply 9 of 36
    mwhitemwhite Posts: 205member
    entropys said:
    This has nothing to do with net neutrality, but the inappropriate phone contract County Fire chose with Verizon. Verizon, as you would expect, handled this badly, becuase it is Verizon. But really, wtf was Santa Clara doing buying a contract for emergency services that included throttling after a certain bandwidth was used?

    So to cover up its mistake, County Fire has sent out the distraction squirrel of net neutrality. The political operatives in charge must think the average Californian is an idiot.
    Am I wrong, but don't all Verizon plans throttle after a certain point, just the "unlimited" throttle at like 50 GB or something.
    It's 22 gig then they throttle...
    jbdragonrepressthisnouserdysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 36
    NaiyasNaiyas Posts: 13member
    I never used Verizon when I lived in the US so I can’t speak for their customer service, but I do get completely fed up, regardless of country, for what amounts to “mis-selling” or “mis-advertising”.

    You buy an unlimited plan with an advertised speed (usually in huge type) and then hidden in the small print is a clause that actually says “I know you think you’ve got an unlimited plan at the speed we’ve emblazoned in bold nice and big, but actually you don’t because if you use more than a certain amount of data we’re going to slow you down”.

    This is not unlimited then is it! It is a speed capped service depending on data usage. This is the problem in my opinion and the sooner companies were forced to be honest and clear the better. Having to read the “small print” to find this BS is not the answer.
    zoetmbdysamoria
  • Reply 11 of 36
    Both are responsible.
    you can’t rely completely on the internet in emergency situations, you have to have backup plans in place always. 
    anton zuykov
  • Reply 12 of 36
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Both are responsible.
    you can’t rely completely on the internet in emergency situations, you have to have backup plans in place always. 
    It’s 2018, dude. Technology should be reliable enough. It’s just the greedy Verizon!
    derekcurrieGeorgeBMacdysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 36
    why does a fire department needs to use a mobile contract like everyone else? Are there no dedicated emergency services communication channels in the US?
  • Reply 14 of 36
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,849member
    chasm said:
    Did you guys miss the part of the story where Verizon is supposed to lift caps in an emergency or when contacted by emergency services? This is 100 percent on them for a) not automatically offering throttle-free data lines to emergency services, as de facto SOP and b) not trying their response staff properly, and c) milking the govt and taxpayer dollars for shitty contracts that — were providers regulated as public utilities — would always have provided service to authorized emergency services completely free of charge.
    No I didn’t miss it. This a contract that requires special treatment in an emergency. You can just about guarantee that would result in a stuff up every now and again. Because it requires a few steps in decision making and action that ideally, should never be needed in the first place. It is an arrangement Sant Clara should never have entered into, because the type of Verizon contract is inappropriate for the activity. 
    longpathnouser
  • Reply 15 of 36
    bellsbells Posts: 131member
    macseeker said:
    You know what!

    I blame both Santa Clara County Fire Department (SCCFD) and Verizon.  SCCFD should have looked for the worst-case-scenario for their data usage and Verizon should have cleared the SCCFD data limits as both a public service and good will service.

    On some rare occasions, contracts aren't set in stone.  Yeah, the lawyers might think otherwise.
    Less blame on verizon, as they did not specifically know who the clients were. It was a single rule that gets applied to everyone. As for SCCFD , that is a different story, as they knew who would be using those data plans.
    I’m not sure why more blame on the Fire Department. It purchased a plan called unlimited sold to government entities. Buried in the fine print is the details about throttling. These so called unlimited plans are purposfully deceptive. Further, how is a regular person supposed to know how much data it needs to fight a disaster that is raging on? 

    So more blame to Verizon. Verizon shouldn’t sell plans as unlimited that really aren’t unlimited. 

    When the Fire Department called, Verizon should have lifted the throttling first, and explain the limitations of its plan later.

    Maybe the CEO of Verizon didn’t know the fire department called, but I’m  sure the customer service person knew it was talking to the fire department. It was  Verizon that put in place the system that didn’t allow the customer service person to lift the restriction based on the matter.

    Further, this has little to do with net neautralilty unless Verizon was prioritizing some data over other data than it does. The FCC chairman and ISPs didn’t have any problem lying to have net neutrality rules revoked, so I don’t find it problematic net neutrality supporters use this story to its advantage.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 16 of 36
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,923member
    entropys said:
    This has nothing to do with net neutrality, but the inappropriate phone contract County Fire chose with Verizon. Verizon, as you would expect, handled this badly, becuase it is Verizon. But really, wtf was Santa Clara doing buying a contract for emergency services that included throttling after a certain bandwidth was used?

    So to cover up its mistake, County Fire has sent out the distraction squirrel of net neutrality. The political operatives in charge must think the average Californian is an idiot.
    Am I wrong, but don't all Verizon plans throttle after a certain point, just the "unlimited" throttle at like 50 GB or something.
    There are all sorts of business and government plans and contracts available from every service provider. I'm sure they even offer up customized plans.
  • Reply 17 of 36
    Emergency services require unlimited service.  If the contract says unlimited I would presume that’s what it means.  Verizon should understand this.  What if a firefighter was killed due to throttlling?  There needs to be more transparency into this particularly in a government contract.  Or better yet. Next time a fire truck pulls up at a burning Verizon facility or the CEOs home they can throttle the fire hose down to 2 gallons per minute until they pay for additional water flow.  
    emig647muthuk_vanalingamdysamoria
  • Reply 18 of 36
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,870member
    Sounds like Enron when they shutdown power to residents and businesses, claiming that their power-lines have reached max capacity. They later found that they did not reach max capacity and instead wanted increase their charge costs. There were no power shortages.

    They also found recordings of Enron making fun of “old ladies” at home and in hospitals who would force the city to accept Enron’s exorbitant fees to bring it back.

    Sick corporate cultures. 
  • Reply 19 of 36
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 331member
    More disgusting behavior from corporate america, this time costing human lives. Verizon should be heavily fined for this.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 20 of 36
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    fallenjt said:
    It’s 2018, dude.
    Not even remotely an argument.
    anton zuykov
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