The FCC released a blunt warning to hotels today: Stop blocking guests' personal Wi-Fi connections.
"In the 21st century, Wi-Fi represents an essential on-ramp to the Internet. Personal Wi-Fi networks, or "hot spots," are an important way that consumers connect to the Internet. Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi spots is illegal," the FCC said in a statement, calling out Marriott for its slimy blocking practices.
Last year, Marriott got fined $600,000 by the FCC for deauthorizing personal hotspots for people who attended a conference in the hotel. This was about money: Marriott charged up to $1000 per device for people to get on the Internet during the conference, so disabling all other points of access forced its guests to pay.
Even after it paid the fine, Marriott requested a change to the rules to allow Wi-Fi blocking the the future.
Too bad for mercenary hoteliers, it violated Sections 333 of the Communications Act, something the FCC is making clear now. This is a strong message, and hopefully one that prevents other hotel chains from pulling similar stunts. Then again, when there's so much money to be gained from messing with Wi-Fi, I have a feeling hotels like Marriott will try to find other ways to bilk guests on internet. [Ars Technica]
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