Press Release

Friday, August 24, 2018

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.

Friday, August 24, 2018

ABC 10


By Giacomo Luca

On Friday, a California general assembly committee questioned firefighters and date providers about what happened. The Santa Clara County Fire Department says in a lawsuit that Verizon slowed its internet communications at a Northern California wildfire command center three weeks ago.

Verizon Senior Vice President Mike Maiorana says the service restrictions were removed as of Thursday and include Hawaii, where emergency crews are rescuing people Friday from areas flooded by Hurricane Lane.

Verizon representatives explained during the hearing that the policy will also be rolled out in the near future and apply to first responders during emergency situations nationwide.

Friday, August 24, 2018

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.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

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.

The announcement comes in a summer of epic fires in California and as Hawaii is grappling with torrential rainfall, flooding and power outages stemming from Hurricane Lane.

Friday, August 24, 2018

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.

While fighting the Mendocino Complex fire, a Santa Clara Fire Department vehicle had its data speed throttled to 1/200th of its normal speed. Firefighters use this vehicle and cloud service like Google Docs to coordinate response efforts as fire conditions change. The department did have an unlimited plan, but once they went over their 25GB of high-speed data, they were throttled.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Mercury News


By Seung Lee

Verizon will lift all data caps on public safety workers for unlimited data plans in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii immediately after the company dramatically slowed down data speeds for Santa Clara County firefighters helping to battle the Mendocino Complex Fire.

After a maelstrom of criticism, including from California State Assemblymembers who convened a hearing on the matter Friday,Verizon will allow public safety workers, including firefighters in the four states, to have unlimited data with no price increases and data slowdowns, also known as throttling, the company said in an announcement Friday.