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In astatementresponding to Bowden's filing, Verizon insisted that the throttling was a mere customer service error and said it is "reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward".

Faced with a public relations debacle, Verizon says it will no longer throttle broadband connections for fire fighters on the West Coast and "first responders" in Hawaii, which is bracing for Hurricane Lane.

Verizon's actions have rekindled the national debate over net neutrality rules overturned by the Trump administration late a year ago.

The fire department has an unlimited government plan with Verizon, but the company slowed, or throttled, data speed once the agency reached a certain threshold, Bowden wrote in an August 20 court filing. After Verizon reduced the fire department's data speed to 1/200 or less, Bowden's department reached out to Verizon, who responded that they would need to upgrade their plan at double the cost, and only then would the throttling be lifted.

California firefighters battling a fire in Big Sur.

As Ars reported previously, Santa Clara County and the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District are among two-dozen local or state government agencies that the Federal Communications Commission in a bid to overturn the repeal of net neutrality rules that outlawed throttling and blocking. Those rules are meant to force broadband companies to give all customers comparable service, and many critics have insisted they would have protected firefighters' internet access.

Murphy says the department still uses Verizon and has added a second provider to ensure redundancies in their system.

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Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Lane may drop to a Category 3 by Thursday afternoon but that would still be a major hurricane. Currently, Lane is sustaining winds of over 130 miles per hour , and the storm's center could possibly make landfall on Friday.

Reyes also reiterated the company's position that this throttling had nothing to do with net neutrality-he emphasized that net neutrality had to do with content prioritization or de-prioritization, not data caps.

Verizon leaders quickly apologized for the incident, saying they have a policy of removing all speed restrictions in emergency situations.

The announcement came hours before the state Assembly's Select Committee on Natural Disaster, Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding was set to hold an informational hearing on the incident. The Mendocino Complex fire has become the largest ever brush fire in California.

Santa Clara County Fire Capt. Bill Murphy told CNN that the department's connection speed dropped to what you would expect from a dial-up service, making simple tasks like sending an email or updating a Google document nearly impossible. Under the department's plan with Verizon, speed caps might be hit if data use goes over 25GB before the monthly billing period ends.

Verizon will allow public safety workers, such as firefighters, police officers and Emergency Medical Services personnel - as well as the federal justice agencies, including the FBI, CIA and Secret Service - to have unlimited data with no price increases and data caps, said Tami Erwin, executive vice president of operations for Verizon Wireless.

"Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services", he added. "We stand united and will work together to ensure this risky practice of throttling first responders will never happen again here in the Golden State".

In the meantime, the dispatched firefighters used wifi hotspots from adjacent units and had routing devices shipped to their base camp overnight to keep internet connectivity.


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