Published: Mon, August 27, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

Verizon statement on California wildfires and hurricane in Hawaii

Verizon statement on California wildfires and hurricane in Hawaii

Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, as it continues to spreads towards the town of Upper Lake, California, on August 1, 2018. This situation is that a customer reached its prescribed limit of its contractual data plan and the data was reduced.

Previously, Verizon said full-service should have immediately been restored when the fire department told them they were responding to a public emergency.

Reyes also reiterated the company's position that this throttling had nothing to do with net neutrality-he emphasized that net neutrality had to do with content prioritization or de-prioritization, not data caps.

In a statement to CBS News earlier this week, Verizon said the throttling had "nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court".

On Friday, Verizon announced in a statement (https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-statement-california-wildfires-and-hurricane-lane-hawaii) that it will temporarily stop all throttling on service for first responders on the West Coast and in Hawaii, to support firefighting efforts and the response to Hurricane Lane.

Bowden's declaration was submitted in an addendum to a lawsuit filed by 22 states and the District of Columbia to challenge the Federal Communications Commission's decision to do away with net neutrality rules that requires internet providers to treat all traffic equally.

Despite Santa Clara Fire paying for "unlimited" data, they were hit with the issue of heavy throttling until they upgraded to a new plan that was more than twice what they were already paying in the middle of a public safety emergency, and despite communicating that with the service provider.

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 was allowed to throttle data plans under the old net neutrality rules, according to Gigi Sohn.

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Verizon's actions have rekindled the national debate over net neutrality rules overturned by the Trump administration late a year ago. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward, ' the statement added.

Verizon's moves are aimed at soothing mounting outrage sparked by the Santa Clara County Fire Department, which said that the telecom giant had throttled the speeds of firefighters struggling to contain the largest wildfire California has ever seen.

Chief Bowden and Verizon representatives are slated to speak at the hearing.

Before they were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December, communications companies were required to provide equal data access to all customers.

"Their ability to (fire the fire) was significantly impacted by the data throttling", Murphy said. "For that, we are truly sorry".

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.

Murphy said that firefighters were able to work around the problem by using their own devices, but he is concerned about what will happen if others see their data throttled during an emergency.

So, rather than wait for Verizon to get its act together, he said, they came up with an alternative.

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