Verizon apologizes for throttling California firefighters’ data

The wireless provider says ‘a customer support mistake’ led to some firefighters being charged double for internet access while battling raging wildfires. Critics cite the end of net neutrality.

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In combatting the unprecedented wildfires ravaging California this summer, firefighters have relied on mobile technology for support.

However, at least one fire department was forced to pay double when Verizon throttled its data.

In data throttling, mobile phone providers slow data-loading speeds once a customer has reached a monthly threshold, even under unlimited data plans—much like cutting the water pressure for a fire hose.

Ars Technica reported:

“County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon,” Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration.


Santa Clara Fire paid Verizon for “unlimited” data but suffered from heavy throttling until the department paid Verizon more, according to Bowden’s declaration and emails between the fire department and Verizon that were submitted as evidence.

The revelations are part of the ongoing legal battle over net neutrality—laws and regulations regarding how consumers should pay for internet access.

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