EMS communications data ‘Throttled’ down by Verizon


Lawful neutral

As the blazes we now know as the Mendocino Complex roared to life last month, Santa Clara County firefighters sent to the scene found themselves facing an unexpected obstacle: Verizon, their internet service provider, imposed a drastic limit on data speeds to and from their crucial mobile command center.

The data "throttling," first reported Tuesday by the technology news site Ars Technica, forced Santa Clara County Fire Department firefighters to negotiate with Verizon for higher internet speeds while they tried to perform their intended function as a communications hub for incident commanders.

The throttling came to light in a declaration filed last Friday by Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden, written in support of a lawsuit seeking to restore internet neutrality rules repealed last year by the Federal Communications Commission.

Bowden wrote that Verizon's 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."

That internet connection was so slow that Fire Capt. Justin Stockman reported to department officials "it has no meaningful functionality."

The emails show firefighters alternately demanding and pleading for removal of the data throttling, and a Verizon customer representative suggesting that the department purchase a more expensive plan to ensure uninterrupted high-speed service.


PREMO Member
you get what you pay for :shrug:

someone with the Fire Dept seriously underestimated the bandwidth required ?

I am not sure the 'net neutrality' argument here either ... if you pay for 35 mbt you get 35 mbt ...

"It's $99.99 for the first 20GB and $8/GB thereafter," Buss wrote. "To get the plan changed immediately, I would suggest calling in the plan change to our customer service team. ... Let me know if you have any questions -- I'll be available by phone for at least the next hour or so."

In statements issued to media outlets after the Ars Technica article appeared, Verizon disputed that the throttling issue had anything to do with net neutrality regulations. Instead, it said the issue involved "a mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan."

The company also acknowledged another mistake.

"Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations," the company's statement 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. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward."
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