Critics Attack Verizon and the FCC After Company Throttles The Santa ClaraFire Department During Emergency

During the recent national debate over net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai insisted that companies would not engage in unfair throttling of customers and would act reasonably and fairly in using their control over wireless service.  The CC, Pai, and Verizon are under withering attack this week after Verizon throttled the wireless service of the Santa Clara Fire Department in the middle of fighting a massive fire emergency — putting both first responders and citizens alike at risk.  The fire fighters were told by Verizon in the middle of their emergency that they might want to upgrade their plans with Verizon and the company would be happy to help them with a new plan. Verizon has now promised not to throttle the fire department but the incident has highlighted the use of throttling against consumer after winning control from Paia and the Administration.  The controversial decision — made on a strict partisan vote — by the FCC changed the 2015 Open Internet Order under which the Federal Communications Commission it made broadband Internet service providers common carriers subject to the federal laws that protect consumers to protect privacy and promote competition as well as establishing “net neutrality” rules based on its Title II authority. That included bans on precisely this type of manipulation, including “no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization.” What is fascinating is that companies like Verizon argued that part of the reason for giving them back control was to prioritize services for first responders while promising not to throttle consumers to force unfair plans.  They appear to have done precisely the opposite here.  

24 thoughts on “Critics Attack Verizon and the FCC After Company Throttles The Santa ClaraFire Department During Emergency”

  1. I know very little of the situation, but assume that the fire department reached their bandwidth limit and experienced throttle. I also am working under the assumption that this was an internet product and not cell phone.

    Before the government rushes to control and regulate, we first need to ascertain the following.

    Why did the fire department run out of bandwidth? One would think that emergency services would have the top tier plan. The fire department still has to pay for power, water, electricity, internet, etc. Where did the breakdown occur?

    If Verizon broke laws or regulations, they will be punished or fined accordingly.

    All cities should take this as a heed of caution and review their own services.

    One can protect access to telephone, electricity, and internet for emergency responders without the government taking control of the entire internet.

    It has been argued that Net Neutrality is a corporate giveaway because it would charge the guy in his house uploading content the same as Netflix. Internet Service Providers could not longer charge more for those who use more. Unless the government is going to carpet the country with fiber optic cable and all the other delivery systems, how can it interfere with companies who charge more for those who use more bandwidth? If one person hogs it all and pays the same, they are going to be able to serve less customers.

    In addition, once the government has the power to regulate the internet, it can regulate content. Facebook and Youtube have shown bias targeting conservatives. FB recently testified before Congress on its misuse of consumer information. In addition, FB helped get Obama re-elected through allowing the DNC access to its eligible voters. That creates a need for a new platform. See a need, fill a need. I hope that conservatives can get their own platforms, or perhaps truly neutral platforms will arise.

    Increased competition will improve the situation, as will infrastructure.

    If the government wanted to get involved and be helpful, rather than controlling, it could offer to increase internet infrastructure in under served areas. Improve access without interfering with content. It could also limit its regulations to perhaps requiring that service not be interrupted to police, fire, and other first responders, although some sort of recompense would have to be included for those bankrupt departments that cannot pay their bills. For instance, so many cities have fallen into bankruptcy from underfunded pension and other benefits that they gave to unions. Stockton is an example.

    The internet was a fantastic invention, where ideas and communications flew without government interference for a while. Once the government starts regulating the internet, will we one day be taxed on uploading content? Will content be regulated? How long will the Internet Freedom Act hold before we are taxed on our internet use, like we are taxed on our phone and tv bill? How complicated can they make sales tax and business licenses when selling online?

  2. There is still something to be appreciated from the dial-up BBS days where most individuals had several to a dozen or so choices of who they could connect.(1980s to mid-1990s).

    Granted the bandwidth was very lacking due to the tech of the day but at least it wasn’t as commercialized or politicized as it is today.

  3. Verizon and I parted ways when their guaranteed replacement plan went like this. “hello etc. there will be a 20 minute rate… 30 minutes later . Oh you need a different department Hello there wil be ten minute wait … an hour later ….. and this went on for three or four hourss when the correct department was listed I got instructions on where to mail the defective cel phone.some code numbers etc.

    My next bill included a restocking fee and eventuallly a new cell phone except it wasn’ new and was still programmed with the previous owners information and phone listings etc I called them and they said they had gone through the same thing and were sitl waiting for the replacement phone. …

    I canceled the service and ignored the billings having cancelled them AT the bank then changed the bank account numbers.

    About two years later I got called by a collection service. My advise to them was subpoen me into the small claims court for my area.

    Did it affect my credit rating. Not at all

    Verizon is a scam company. if you don’t have them treat them like Bank America and drive around their location. Now to finish this. One of my friends had them constantly pirating their phone number and switching service. He put the cell phone with s fresh charge in a long haul truck. And like me switched to trac phone. .

  4. What Is Bandwidth Throttling?

    Throttling bandwidth at certain times are used to prevent services from overloading and crashing.

    I designed & installed an email throttling network for a company’s worldwide email system. Used 2 Sun servers, 2 Cisco load balancers & 2 firewalls. If you don’t know, should you know? . Want to know more, here’s a link.

  5. Without appropriate regulation, “entrepreneurs” will maximize profits without consideration of how it affects others.

    When you reserve lodging online now, third parties are charging more than if you go to the specific hotel website which requires knowing the specific name and address of the hotel you want, and careful attention to the webaddress you are contacting. They can do this by manipulation of search engine listings.

    1. With all due respect, what you typed is outright wrong, period. 3rd parties buy bulk for a discounted price. In all or most cases where I compared, direct through the hotel costs more than the 3rd party, the exact opposite what you typed.

  6. In lieu of a public flogging of Verizon’s CEO, an enormous fine is in order.

    1. Forget that, a good public flogging would go a lot farther and more expensive to the company in the end than some fine for the gov.

  7. This is 100% the Chief’s fault, and no one else. If someone below him screwed up, that person needs to be fired.

    I wonder if Turley wants all automobiles to be only Yugos, because we need equality of car quality, no winners/losers. Ditto, all the different shipping options. Get rid of them. Only one shipping option, whatever it is, because we must have equality of outcomes all the time. No more rich people getting something better than the plebes. In every way possible, we must make life for the rich only equal to the poor or some arbitrary middle of the ground target. Same military haircuts, etc, etc, etc……….

    This whole argument is so dumb it beggars the mind.

    On a different note, relative to costs of fire and police. Take a close look at the overtime situation, which of course saves cities and counties money (paying 50% OT costs way less than the total cost of salary and benefits for a new FTE). My point is to look at the average number of OT hours per employee. The entire purpose of paying OT was to compensate employees because they alleged that employees need time away from work, establishing this arbitrary 40 hour work week for this union jobs like fire and police. So OT pays 1.5x their normal salary. When you look at the hours they agree to work, their argument crumbles. It’s not that over 40 hours is of any risk to their lifestyle, it’s just an argument to extort more money.

    Get rid of the 50% OT rule immediately. It’s a union scam. It might have made sense a century ago with factory work, but not now. That’s the real taxpayer ripoff, not Verizon.

    1. Joseph, your views on labor have barely entered the 20th Century. I guess you’re one of those Libertarians who thinks Victoria England was the ideal business climate.

      1. No, I know history. Notice that rather than reply to what I typed, you attacked the author, me, thus confirming you either have no reply and/or there is no logical reply.

        I made one comment about police and fire unions demanding 50% extra for OT, no broad statement about labor. The arguments for this rule first appeared 85 years ago. Please explain why the argument should not be revisited. At that time, everyone was forced to work endless OT for no extra pay. Now it’s inverted: many fire and police choose to work OT and can’t get enough of it. In many major cities, non-supervisors earn over $300k, and this is easily proven with online search, “(major city name) 2017 top over time wage earner”

        The OT and 50% extra wage was invented about 75 years ago, as a reply to the time when industrialists ruled the nation with an iron hand. So the unions invented the 40 hour work week, and the requirement to pay 50% OT for hours beyond 40. That was fine for that era, that was needed, when longevity was about ten years less than today, and working in a factory was hell.

        That’s not the case with police and fire today. I know of at least one police person working on his FOURTH job with retirement benefits. I don’t care, that’s FINE! But this just totally disproves that police have to retire at age 50 with full benefits because the job “takes so much out of them.” If that’s the case, how the heck do so many get a 2nd, 3rd, and in this person’s case 4th career job with retirement benefits? Who do they think they’re kidding?

        Some fire and police routinely work 60-100 hours per week for the OT. Look up major cities, some of which publish the wages earned by police and fire, and I’m talking about regular beat cops and fire, non-supervisors, many of whom earn over $200, some $300k. Some or all by pure choice. This proves the job is less difficult than the union claims, and puts to shame this demand for 1.5x normal pay for OT. Those same employees who work tons of OT, I bet their hours worked would not fall by more than 10% if they got only 10% extra for OT instead of 50%. These employees are addicted to money.

        1. Big city Police & Fire make good union wages. And that stacks up with overtime. However Police & Fire in smaller cities, and even medium size cities, are usually non-union. Which usually means ‘lower pay’. Meaning Police & Fire ‘depend’ on overtime to support their families.

          One has to realize that Police & Fire can’t promptly quit at the end every shift. Whatever they’re working on has to be completed. That’s where overtime comes in.

          With no overtime most cops would hide out the last hour of their shifts. Just so they could leave on time. Don’t think they wouldn’t! Why look for cases if no overtime?

          At any rate you won’t convince me that 40 hour work weeks are a menace to good government or free enterprise.

  8. As a public service provider Santa Clara County Fire Department failed in properly equipping itself for the work at hand. It should have had a data plan sufficient for its task in the same way it properly provisions firefighters, fire trucks, axes, and water. On the other hand, Verizon should consider offering “peeker” service for first responders, the cost of which would be socialized across its service plan area. In order to offer this first responder serviceit might have to downgrade everyone else, in much the same way everyone pulls to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle approaches with sirens blazing. Nothing is free – someone pays every time.

    1. Interesting. Although I would call the bandwidth “soft widgets” since the whole capacity thing is the question. A road is “so many meters wide” in absolute terms. Fire trucks are so many meters wide. Data packets and compression, and as a result, the virtual size of the pipe they are smushed through are of question. But I can assure you if a ton of people would walk with their pocketbooks, it would get solved quickly instead of the crap of needing to submit lengthy BS account no one would understand that would be required to please a gov agency. That, along with a fine (campaign contribution) of some type would be the norm, I would think.

  9. I would think that the firefighters would have the top tier plan to begin with. This is not Verizon’s fault, this is the firefighter’s trying to cheap it out.

    1. Hey Paul, could be, but I would still beat on Verizon about it. We won’t go into the whole bean counter thing there… and it’s up to Verizon to put up.

      1. slohrss29 – they could have gone with T-Mobile, however Verizon has better coverage. Verizon costs more and has tiered service. They should have taken the top tier. The fault is not Verizon’s but Santa Clara’s.

      2. “and it’s up to Verizon to put up.”

        Slohrss29 what we look for is a solution, as you recognize, the best solutions occur between the parties involved, the buyer and the seller. That problem is not solved if it is artificially ameliorated. Problems are what create solutions.

        You are assuming that Verizon is at fault. There are private fire departments that charge or charged individual homeowners for the service. In order to maintain such a depatartment they had to maintain cash flow. If a house caught on fire they would not respond unless contracted to do so. Was it up to the fire department to put up because they let a house burn down?

        Many of those affected by the problem of throttling that have high usage and a lack of desire to pay the higher price have solved the problem, at least in part, by using a VPN. If too many people utilize such methods Verizon will alter their methods finding new ways to fill the financial gap of high users. The consumer will find new ways to avoid the costs. That is the essence of innovation which moves us forward.

  10. Fine them bigly. They pass the costs on to their customers. The customers opt for less expensive non fined companies. Free enterprise at work with the government protecting consumers.

  11. Why hold government accountable again here? This is a perfectly logical case for a free market solution. Verizon just got dumped on, and it should be up to this agency to trash them in the media, and cut a new deal with a provider of services who would honor the efforts of this government agency, then make a public announcement to put the new company on the spot. Maybe all the social justice types from CA who post here should terminate their business with Verizon and go to another provider as well instead of crying for government to stand up and pass more laws. You want to wake up government and business, hit them in the pocketbook and the press (before you give them complete control of the press…).

    1. If this was a standard practice and not just an isolated incident, I would have expected more reports of this behavior against first responders. How are these plans managed by city and state governments that just Santa Clara had a problem? This reminds me of how Wells Fargo was illegally foreclosing homes on veterans that were deployed. They took a beating on that and are still trying to recover their reputation. If Verizon is guilty, throttle them with fines.

  12. Ah the joys of indiscriminate deregulation. Don’t worry everyone, the corporations that are people too will always work in mankind’s best interests!

    1. The parents of dead children in Broward County FL relied on the government and especially the FBI and local police to keep their children safe. Instead, the FBI allowed the murderer to illegally purchase a rifle, the same Police Chief told his police not to arrest the killer earlier, because to do so would go against Obama’s policy not to arrest children of protected classes like Hispanics and Blacks, and some LEOs protected themselves from harm rather than find and shoot the killer.

      Has any “public servant” paid a price for the deaths of those innocent children? NO! And you think regulation is the answer. How naïve.

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