Verizon has decided to remove all speed cap restrictions for first responder subscribers, like the California firefighters who recently experienced throttling on their "unlimited" plan. A new actually unlimited plan with priority access and without caps is also being developed, and the company pledges to lift restrictions in the future for "public safety customers" like the California firefighters in future disaster events.
If you haven't followed the drama this week (since we haven't covered it), Verizon was accused of throttling a fire department's "unlimited" data during a wildfire response in California. As a result, the fire department had to pay twice as much to lift throttling. According to the county, Verizon's actions were "actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services." Verizon maintained that it was the result of a "customer support mistake" and that "this situation has nothing to do with net neutrality," though the county argued otherwise.
Most of us probably know that US carriers rampantly abuse the term "unlimited" by applying it to their services even though they include caps and throttling limits, but one would have assumed Verizon would have considered the storm of bad PR that would surround throttling firefighters' "unlimited" plans in the middle of a wildfire. "Customer support mistake" or not, Verizon (and other carriers') nomenclature remains disingenuous to consumers.
In today's press release, Verizon played up is prior association as the "trusted provider of choice" when it comes to public safety, apologizing for its recent actions throttling firefighters mid-fire, "we didn’t live up to our own promise of service and performance excellence when our process failed some first responders on the line, battling a massive California wildfire."
As part of the apology, Verizon plans on "introducing a new plan that will feature unlimited data, with no caps on mobile solutions and automatically includes priority access." It isn't immediately clear if these new plans will be exclusive to first responders or if they're intended for general use, though the former is more likely. Details are expected next week, and service can be upgraded to this new plan at no additional cost.
For more information, check out the full PR just below:
Verizon statement on California wildfires and Hurricane Lane in Hawaii
Statement by Mike Maiorana, Verizon Senior Vice President of Public Sector:
“First responders put themselves on the line each and every day. And every day, we are eternally grateful for their bravery and efforts.
In supporting first responders in the Mendocino fire, we didn’t live up to our own promise of service and performance excellence when our process failed some first responders on the line, battling a massive California wildfire. For that, we are truly sorry. And we’re making every effort to ensure that it never happens again.
As of yesterday, we removed all speed cap restrictions for first responders on the west coast and in Hawaii to support current firefighting and Hurricane Lane efforts. Further, in the event of another disaster, Verizon will lift restrictions on public safety customers, providing full network access.
We’ve been working closely with mission critical first responders to refine our service plan to better meet their unique needs. As a result, we’re introducing a new plan that will feature unlimited data, with no caps on mobile solutions and automatically includes priority access. We’ll provide full details when we introduce the plan next week, and we will make it easy to upgrade service at no additional cost.
Verizon has long been known as the trusted provider of choice for public safety because of our superior network reliability and our partnership with local first responders in times of crisis. Verizon customers have access to our more than 450,000-square mile 4G LTE coverage advantage over competitors. In addition, we consistently show up in times of disaster to extend our network capabilities, provide our customers with loaner devices, and provide customers of any provider with access to free charging stations.
We are proud to support the men and women who serve us all.”