Verizon reportedly “throttled” the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s “unlimited data plan” while they were fighting a record number of wildfires, placing lives at risk.
According to Gizmodo, Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden claims Verizon “had throttled a SIM card connecting a fire department mobile command vehicle named ‘OES 5262’ to 1/200th of its normal speed, putting lives and property at risk, and that the company’s support team refused to lift the restrictions until fire officials purchased a new data plan at ‘more than twice the cost.’”
Bowden further claimed that the incident “severely interfered with the OES 5262’s ability to function effectively,” and added that Verizon deliberately throttled the data in an attempt to “coerce” the department into paying more money during a crisis.
“While Verizon ultimately did lift the throttling, it was only after County Fire subscribed to a new, more expensive plan,” Bowden proclaimed. “In light of our experience, County Fire believes it is likely that Verizon will continue to use the exigent nature of public safety emergencies and catastrophic events to coerce public agencies into higher-cost plans, ultimately paying significantly more for mission-critical service—even if that means risking harm to public safety during negotiations.”
In a statement, Verizon claimed the incident was due to a “mistake in how we communicated with our customer about the terms of its plan.”
Wildfires continue to rage across the state of California. Earlier this month, one fire north of San Francisco became the largest wildfire in the history of the state, burning over 443 square miles, approximately the size of the city of Los Angeles.