When news broke earlier in the week that Verizon was slowing California firefighters’ data speeds during wildfires, there was a predictable offense over the company’s actions. Verizon dropped that fire department's connection to a crawl, even after being informed of the fires -which might have been witnessed by Verizon employees simply looking outside, opening a window or watching the news.
The Santa Clara County Fire Chief accuses Verizon of throttled data service for a key command vehicle to one/two-hundredth of its normal rate. Firefighters on the fire line were forced to use their personal cell phones or take other steps to communicate. Sending an email, a telegram, a quick postcard, pony express, waving hands frantically etc. aren't conducive to fireground operations.
Of course, in Verizon's infinite cluelessness, they didn't restore the speeds until the fire department paid for a better plan. When the county contacted Verizon regarding the problem, a Verizon representative reportedly offered a more expensive service plan as an alternative.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
During that time, it would have been impossible to find anyone unaware of the fires - no matter what country you were in. I'm sure even Putin's pals were figuring out how to hack into the fire.
So of course, because it's been our experience that most consumer-based marketing and related folks don't have a grasp on fire and emergency service reality, Verizon has found itself during a nasty butt kicking. One they deserve.
So why is everyone pissed? Because people in general are fed up with so-called mechanized non-human, non-thinking, flip card, check list responses to predictable human problems. A response more like...wait, you're the fire dept? you’re at those big fires? THOSE fires? Wow...HOW can we help? and then help them.
People are further fed up with the lack of "back up" plans or actions...for example, last week, we were staying at a big hotel in Dallas for FRI. One of those days, the entire hotel air-conditioning went down for about six hours.
Is that a problem? Let's see: Dallas + August = HOT. So, you would think that if you were in the hospitality business, there would be a backup system. You would think.
In other words, think about a constant process of "what if" which is how most fire folks think, kind of an "if this then that...if not that, then this...etc.". Asking the question "what might go wrong?" and preparing for that; lead the people to prepare for and manage the predictable risk.
Verizon has a whole boatload of folks involved with emergency response. They also have quadrillion boats full of people involved in figuring out how they can make the most money possible. And like most big corporations where CEO's are way too tanned wearing way too fancy clothes, they want to make as much money as possible with as little effort or service as possible.
Why wouldn't or didn't "bells and whistles" go off somewhere within the Verizon leadership mansions, resorts, secluded islands, jets or penthouse apartments letting them (and all staff) know "there is a major emergency in California-let’s not throttle down those areas..."
People are fed up with huge companies charging massive amounts for silly "this is the best deal ever" contracts - to then have us find out the service sucks (throttle down-read the tiny print) and then, their answer to fix it is to charge more. Fed up.
So, while I don't have a solution for less phone usage, the fire and emergency services community does have an alternate service plan option.
FirstNet is now available across the nation, with us (Fire, EMS and related first responders) guaranteed priority and preemption over a secure, robust network dedicated to us. Priority and preemption allow first responders to communicate without interruption over an “always-on” network. Public safety agencies using FirstNet can also boost priority levels in emergencies, keeping their first responder teams connected when lives depend on it.
FirstNet is an independent authority (of which we at FFCC or TSL have no connection or involvement) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Authorized by Congress in 2012, its mission is to develop, build and operate the nationwide, broadband network that equips Firefighters & other first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities and you can use it NOW.
Here is a video about it:
Here is how to contact FirstNet: https://www.firstnet.com/contact-us Check it out.
And if you have any questions, send me an email versus calling because Teri predicts I will have unusually poor Verizon service very soon.