Verizon revealed plans to introduce a new tariff for first responders, as it seeks to quell backlash following reports it slowed data rates for firefighters battling a blaze in California.
In a statement, Mike Maiorana, SVP of public sector, said Verizon will debut the new service plan for public safety customers this week, which will include priority network access without speed caps. Customers will be able to upgrade to the plan at no additional cost.
He added speed restrictions have already been lifted for first responders fighting fires on the west coast and those responding to Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.
Operators offering unlimited tariffs commonly include fair use policies restricting access after a set amount of data is consumed: in the case of the California firefighters, the limit stood at 25GB per month, however the mobile equipment the department employed could consume around 10GB per day.
The changes come after California firefighters backing a move to reinstate net neutrality rules said Verizon declined to lift the cap for crews battling the massive Mendocino fire unless they upgraded to a more expensive service plan, leaving them to work with speeds of 200kb/s.
Maiorana conceded Verizon’s response to the situation in Mendocino “didn’t live up to our own promise of service and performance excellence,” adding “we’re making every effort to ensure that it never happens again.”
Verizon’s mistake could cost it: the operator is trying to retain its place in the public safety market as AT&T launches its dedicated network for first responders, known as FirstNet.
In July, AT&T said nearly 1,500 public safety agencies had already signed on for FirstNet service.