By Sam Turner
Marriott hotels are one of the world leaders in the hotel industry but the hotel giant was recently in trouble with the FCC. The hotel chain had a practice of blocking Wi-Fi hotspots in its hotels which was assumed to be the way they encouraged hotel guests to use the hotels’ WiFi.
Marriott received a strong warning from the FCC to stop that practice immediately. In a statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said,
“The Communications Act prohibits anyone from … interfering with authorized radio communications, including Wi-Fi. Marriott’s request seeking the FCC’s blessing to block guests’ use of non-Marriott networks is contrary to this basic principle.”
Marriott was fined $600,000 and the FCC made it clear that any other hotel chains that blocked WiFi would also be fined by FCC’s Enforcement Bureau.
After the Bureau fined Marriott, the hotel chain sent in a petition to the FCC to request blocking Wi-Fi only in the conference rooms of the hotels. According to the hotel chain, they wanted to do this because they wanted to protect their guests from cyber-attacks on the company’s network or disruptions to the Wi-Fi service while conference attendees or guests were using it.
A lot of the hotel chains’ guests were extremely upset because they said that the hotel chain was obviously trying to block their access in the hotel rooms and other parts of the hotel and not just the conference rooms.
Wireless providers such as Google and Microsoft opposed Marriott’s petition and encouraged the FCC to deny the petition to block Wi-Fi.
Earlier this month, after a lot of backlash from those opposing Marriott’s petition, the hotel giant backed down and will no longer pursue the request.
According to Marriott, they will make every effort to “find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices.”
The FCC has instructed the public to contact the commission if they have any reason to believe that their Wi-Fi hotspots are being blocked.