Remember the Verizon commercial during the Super Bowl (http://allthingsfirstnet.com/the-verizon-super-bowl-ad-is-problematic-here’s-why) telling the world how much they support public safety? Many times, in the last year we at www.allthingsfirstnet.com have provided examples of how Verizon has failed public safety. Like we said in our tweet Tuesday night, “you just can’t make this up”. Verizon keeps saying to public safety “we got your back”. Well they don’t and just because a Senior Vice President says so doesn’t make that true. In case you missed it and are wondering what I am talking about (http://allthingsfirstnet.com/verizon-throttled-fire-departments-unlimited-data-during-calif-wildfire) there have been multiple stories run in the last twenty-four hours about how Verizon throttled the data speeds of Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection Districts during a wildland fire. As firefighters were risking their lives and property was burning, Verizon throttled their data speed when they needed it most.
This is exactly why we created FirstNet. As we have said over and over and over again “a commercial network is not designed to be a public safety grade network”. Oh yes, and let’s remember Verizon said basically that same thing in a meeting in Herndon, VA around 2010. Verizon continues to try and say FirstNet is nothing more than AT&T’s commercial network, which is wrong. They continue to try and tell public safety they have also been there for public safety, which is wrong. Verizon is only trying to maintain a customer base to protect profit and stock price. I am sure if you are one of Verizon’s top paying customers you don’t experience any of these problems.
I would really like to go on about how FirstNet is different in that it is a public safety network, built to public safety needs, with public safety oversight, public safety exclusive call centers and a contract requiring AT&T to provide all those services and more, but I already said that multiple times. Instead, let’s talk about Verizon’s response as reported by BBC news (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45270854). “Verizon said a mistake had been made. However, it highlighted that the fire department had subscribed to a contract that stated data throughput would be cut after a usage limit had been hit.” Oh, I see, it was the fire department’s fault. They didn’t read the fine print or maybe they just used too much data.
What you learn in these news stories is that at least two Verizon employees touched this issue. The first was the account manager and the second was customer service who they were told to call. In another story Verizon claims it does lift data caps in an emergency. You would think both the account representative and customer service would know this is if it were in fact a corporate policy. So not only didn’t Verizon solve the problem by releasing the cap, but according to the article the solution was that they had to pay Verizon more money to solve the problem. The picture in my head is that of an incident command team standing around the command vehicle with fires burning everywhere when someone yells out “chief, did you bring the credit card, I have Verizon on the phone and I need to buy more data.”
What’s the solution? FirstNet. It is still in year one of a multiyear build, but if you have coverage today you should be calling your FirstNet representative before you become another victim of a commercial data network.
And one last thing. Thank you, Verizon, for once again proving that a commercial carrier is not designed to support public safety.
Opinions expressed within this column are those of the author