FCC Finally Lays Down the Law: Hotels Can't Block Wi-Fi 

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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The FCC Fined Marriott $600,000 For Blocking Guests' Wi-Fi

The FCC wants the Marriott hotel chain to pay up for its slimy practice of blocking and disabling conference guests' personal Wi-Fi connections.

Marriott is accused of jamming personal connections at its Gaylord Opryland location in Nashville, Tennessee. In a statement, the FCC said its team had evidence that Marriott employees blocked personal access "while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses, and exhibitors as much as $1000 per device to access Marriott's Wi-Fi network."


Showing up at a hotel and having to pay extra for Wi-Fi sucks, which is why people sometimes use mobile routers or their phones as personal hotspots when they're on vacation or attending a conference.

Marriott didn't want to lose money once people figured out how to avoid paying for the hotel Wi-Fi access, hence the blocking. Too bad (for Marriott) that's a fairly obvious violation of Section 333 of the Communications Act, which prohibits the use of jammers.

Considering how much money hotel chains bilk out of customers for using Wi-Fi, I seriously doubt Marriott is the only business that's doing this. Hopefully this fine will help curb similar behavior elsewhere and help make getting internet in a hotel room less of a pricey hassle. [Bloomberg]