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Verizon throttled California fire department's data as it fought wildfires

A net neutrality complaint claims the Santa Clara County Fire Department had its data throttled by Verizon as it acted to put out California's raging Mendocino wildfire, an action the company later said was a mistake.

Despite paying for unlimited data, the Santa Clara County Fire Department's data was throttled by Verizon Wireless, even as the department fought the Mendocino Complex fire earlier this month.

According to Ars Technica, the department has alleged the throttling as part of a multistate lawsuit seeking to block the FCC's reversal of net neutrality rules.

"County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon," Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration."This 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."

It goes on to allege that the department needed to pay more to Verizon in order to stop the throttling, even as it fought the fires. A similar situation had taken place during the fighting of two previous fires last year.

Verizon admitted, in a statement, to Ars, that it mishandled the situation.

"In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us," Verizon said. "This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward Like all customers, fire departments choose service plans that are best for them. This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost."

The throttling incident all happened following the official end of net neutrality in June.