Verizon statement on California wildfires and hurricane in Hawaii

Utah firefighter Mathew Burchett. Burchett died Aug. 13 while fighting the Mendocino Complex fire north of San Francisco

The teclo restricted data service in the middle of the Medocino Complex fire in July this year, capping data at 0.2Mbps, which the Santa Clara County Fire Department said seriously hampered firefighting efforts.

The controversy began this week when a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general asked a federal appeals court to block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overturning its 2015 net neutrality rules.

A lawyer for Santa Clara County and its fire department told Ars Technica on Wednesday that it was important to highlight Verizon's use of throttling amid the net neutrality debate because it showed that internet service providers "will act in their economic interests, even at the expense of public safety".

"It really truly is meant for the rigors of first responders and how we need it", he said. Company executives did not immediately respond to questions about the forthcoming plan.

The California State Assembly's Committee on Natural Disaster Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding is holding an informational hearing Friday on "The Verizon Wireless "Data Throttling" of Mendocino Complex Firefighters' Internet Access".

"Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations".

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.

Verizon said that it would be introducing a new data plan for first responders that doesn't include throttling after an ensuing uproar.

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The multi-party lawsuit says Verizon's actions were a effect of the FCC's December 2017 repeal of net neutrality laws, which mandates equal access to all internet websites and allows the FCC greater control over internet service providers, like Verizon. "We stand united and will work together to ensure this unsafe practice of throttling first responders will never happen again here in the Golden State". This situation is that a customer reached its prescribed limit of its contractual data plan and the data was reduced.

Before they were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December, communications companies were required to provide equal data access to all customers.

In the lawsuit, Bowden said internet systems are important "in providing fire and emergency response, particularly for events like large fires which require rapid deployment and organization" of personnel, resources and equipment.

"By implementing net neutrality, SB 822 will help prevent internet service providers from throttling, thereby preventing data speeds to be manipulated and, in turn, avoid crippling, or worse, deadly outcomes", said the CPF in a statement on Friday.

"If folks are in a position to block or slow your access to information at a time of an emergency, that's gonna have a bad outcome", said Joe Simitian, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. But Verizon insisted the data caps - which were a feature of the department's low-priced data plan - have no link to net neutrality.

"First responders put themselves on the line each and every day", Mike Maiorana, Verizon senior vice president of public sector", said in a statement.

'In large and complex fires, resource allocation requires immediate information, ' he wrote.

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