Wyden presses Verizon on its wildfire communications policy

Oregon senator says telecom company data “throttling” endangers lives during wildfires

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today asked Verizon to explain why it endangered communities threatened by wildfires and first responders by recently throttling the data speeds of firefighters’ communications.

Wyden’s letter to Verizon comes in the wake of troubling reportsthat Verizon slowed – or “throttled” — the data speeds on fire officials’ unlimited Verizon plans while they were battling one of the biggest blazes devastating the West.

“Even more alarming was that at one point Verizon’s customer service representatives apparently suggested that the firefighters’ data problems could be resolved if they paid more in order to receive truly unlimited data,” Wyden wrote. “This is nothing short of Verizon nickel and diming first responders, while limiting their ability to communicate and effectively respond to emergencies.”

Wyden asked that Verizon answer the questions in his letter no later than Sept. 28.

“This summer, the fires are so bad, and the smoke is so thick, that people in my home state are fleeing their communities to find pockets of breathable air, hoping that the possessions they leave behind will be there when they return,” Wyden wrote. “It has long been my goal to help these communities stay safe, to prevent fire damage to community buildings and homes, and to support the heroic firefighters we have in the West by keeping them safe and providing them resources to more efficiently fight these fires.”

 

A copy of the entire letter is here.