San Francisco Chronicle: Verizon, under fire for throttling firefighters’ data speed, lifts caps for first responders

San Francisco Chronicle


By Kevin Fagan

Verizon executives came to the Capitol on Friday to get a tongue lashing over the cell phone giant’s throttling of data service for firefighters battling the massive Mendocino Complex fire — but en route they nipped the scolding in the bud by abruptly lifting all data caps on emergency first responders.

The policy went into effect for fire-ravaged California and Hurricane Lane-lashed Hawaii on Thursday, the company said, and a fuller plan for the rest of the nation will be rolled out next week. Public agencies will be able to switch to the new plan at no additional cost.

“It was a little surprising to hear, and the right thing to do,” said Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, who had called for a hearing Friday before the committee he co-chairs to investigate Verizon’s decision to drastically slow data speed. A firefighting agency said that move put their first responders in danger because they were relying on the service to communicate during the fight against the fires.

Levine’s committee went ahead with its session anyway, hearing from Verizon brass as well as leaders of the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, whose data was throttled last month as they were in the thick of helping fight the Mendocino Complex, the biggest wildfire in state history. But with Verizon’s surprise announcement, the conversation switched from how to address the individual problem that the Santa Clara County firefighters faced to how to craft future policy preventing similar trouble for other emergency responders.

Fresno Business Journal: Locally Made Brandy Finds A Tasting Home

Fresno Business Journal


By Edward Smith

A local distiller endeavoring to make a product to rival French Cognac is finding an established home in a new tasting room in Atwater.

Ken Andrus of Fresno, owner of In Distill of the Night, will be serving Velvet Night Brandy alongside other liquors being offered at tasting room Sweet Potato Spirits when Atwater-based D & S Farms opens the location in October.

The tasting room will feature gin, potato vodka, rye whiskey and brandy  where servers can spend time explaining each of the different flavor profiles before them.

“We’re talking about people enjoying an experience and more true spirit-tasting instead of slamming a glass of wine down,” Andrus said. “You’ll be able to see the different character of the spirits and why they have those characteristics.”

Los Angeles Times: Verizon lifts data restrictions on first responders after criticism for slowing service to firefighters

Los Angeles Times


By Hannah Fry

Verizon Wireless on Friday said it will immediately stop imposing data speed restrictions on first responders throughout the West Coast and Hawaii after facing intense criticism for reducing service to firefighters battling California’s largest-ever wildfire.

The telecommunication giant also said it will move forward in the coming weeks on a plan that will feature unlimited data without restrictions for public safety officials.

TechSpot: California to hold hearing on why Verizon throttled mobile data for firefighters

TechSpot


By William Gayde

Members of the California State Assembly are meeting today in an effort to discover why Verizon throttled the mobile data speeds for firefighters in Santa Clara County. Verizon had previously said it was a customer service error but fire officials and lawmakers aren't buying that. The hearing will include comments from fire department staff and Verizon representatives.

Ars Technica: Verizon stops throttling more firefighters, plans unlimited data “with no caps”

Ars Technica


By Jon Brodkin

​​​​​State lawmakers hold hearing today

Verizon may be worried about losing customers to AT&T, which is operating the government-subsidized FirstNet network for public safety agencies. The Santa Clara department has begun using FirstNet "as a supplement to Verizon to avoid future issues," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Verizon today said it should still be a top choice for public safety departments:

Bill to Eliminate Permit Fees for Seniors Headed to Governor’s Desk

(Sacramento) – A bill that would help ease costs associated with constructing disability related home improvements for seniors moved to the Governor’s desk for a signature on Monday after receiving unanimous bipartisan support from the State Senate.