Unfortunately, this unbelievable story falls into the category of real news, while everyone wishes it was “fake news”…

Santa Clara County Fire Department is suing Verizon Wireless after the telecoms giant limited firefighters’ access as they battled the largest wildfire in Californian state history.

The company throttled the department’s service as they were still battling the Mendocino Complex Fire because it had reached its data limit for the month.

When the fire department called Verizon to tell them they were in the middle of dealing with a public emergency and safety issue, a customer service representative told them they should upgrade to a more expensive plan.

In the lawsuit, the fire department says the throttling was a result of the repeal of net neutrality rules.

County lawyers allege that the slowdown, called ‘throttling’, was caused by the FCC’s action, which allows telecommunications to slow internet speed to selected customers.

The new rules allow companies to limit access to customers who have reached certain data limits.

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 denies the slowdown was related to the lawsuit or the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules, which required equal data access to all customers.

However, the firm agreed full service should have been immediately restored to the county when fire department authorities told a customer service representative it was responding to a public emergency, and the department should not have been urged to upgrade instead.

Verizon blamed a communication error and acknowledged the fire department’s normal service should have been restored more quickly than it was.

On Wednesday Verizon admitted that it had made a mistake in a statement on Wednesday.

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


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