Verizon Attempts to Make You Forget They throttled The ‘Unlimited’ Data Plan Of A Fire Dept. Battling Wildfires with Super Bowl LIII Commercial

During the most boring Super Bowl of all-time, Verizon made a terrible attempt at making people feel like they actually care about first-responders.

During Super Bowl LIII, Verizon paid millions to air their commercial of coach, Anthony Lynn being reunited with the emergency unit that saved his life after being hit by a car in 2009. However, if you remember correctly, Verizon actually throttled the data for one fire department in Santa Clara County, California. They believed they were on the unlimited Verizon wireless data plan for its mobile command and control center (OES 5262) vehicle. The vehicle is used to manage department resources during wildfires and other emergencies. But a brief (pdf) filed this week by net neutrality supporters pushing for restoration of net neutrality rules (first spotted by Ars Technica) highlights how the fire department suddenly found the vehicle (and all connected systems) largely unusable because Verizon had throttled its cellular data connection after 25 GB of usage:

“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.

“In the midst of our response to the Mendocino Complex Fire, County Fire discovered the data connection for OES 5262 was being throttled by Verizon, and data rates had been reduced to 1/200, or less, than the previous speeds,” Bowden wrote. “These reduced speeds severely interfered with the OES 5262’s ability to function effectively. My Information Technology staff communicated directly with Verizon via email about the throttling, requesting it be immediately lifted for public safety purposes.”

The department technically couldn’t formally complain to the FCC because Verizon had, just got done spending millions of dollars and countless lobbying hours to dismantle net neutrality protections, notes Ars:

“Santa Clara could have complained to the FCC under the now-removed net neutrality system, which allowed Internet users to file complaints about any unjust or unreasonable prices and practices. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to deregulate the broadband industry eliminated that complaint option and also limited consumers’ rights to sue Internet providers over unjust or unreasonable behavior.”

Verizon admitted that the company shouldn’t have throttled first responders anyway, as that was a violation of the company’s own policies. But this being the telecom industry, customer service gaffes are a feature, not a bug.

So just in case you thought Verizon cared about first-responders or anyone else, think again.

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