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Lawmakers ask FCC to probe Verizon throttling issue

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., asked the Federal Communications Commission to look into Verizon Communications Inc.'s recent throttling of first responders' communications.

In an Aug. 31 letter to the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Markey and Eshoo said while the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also investigating the matter, the FCC should also look into the "public safety" matter.

Also, the lawmakers disagreed with the FCC's assertion that the FTC could sufficiently fill the void created by the FCC abdicating its role to protect the free and open internet and broadband users' rights by repealing the 2015 Open Internet Order, and abandoning the legal framework of the Title II for broadband.

Additionally, Markey and Eshoo argued that Verizon could increasingly engage in "more troubling practices" like the throttling of the first responders if it is left unchecked.

In August, a fire department in California alleged in federal court that Verizon throttled its internet service this summer as it tried to help fight the largest wildfire in the state's history. In a brief filed with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in support of a lawsuit filed by attorneys general from 22 states and the District of Columbia asking a federal appeals court to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's rollback of net neutrality rules.

In the wake of throttling allegations, Verizon announced a new plan on Aug. 24 to lift speed restrictions for first responders fighting wildfires on the West Coast and those preparing for a hurricane in Hawaii.