The FCC has ruled that hotels have no legal right to block the personal Wi-Fi hotspots of their customers.
In a bluntly written notice to hotel owners, the FCC warns, “Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action.”
The agency’s decision arose from a dispute between Marriott and its customers who said the hotel chain blocked their personal hotspots in an attempt to charge for Marriott’s on-site Wi-Fi services.
The FCC’s notice continues, “The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises… As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.”
In October 2014 the FCC fined Marriott for blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots in Nashville, Tennessee. Marriott paid the fine, but continued to block customer owned Wi-Fi devices. The company asked the FCC to rule definitively on the blocking of such customer-owned technology.
Marriott’s technical experts claimed that the company could better monitor its own network security by blocking Wi-Fi signals from nearby devices. Immediately following that statement Google and Microsoft countered the company’s claims, and proved just how flawed Marriott’s logic was in terms of network security.
The FCC now states in no uncertain terms that, “No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network. Such action is illegal and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.”
Because Wi-Fi goes out over an unlicensed band of spectrum that does not belong to any singular company, the FCC maintains that it has the right to legally act in the manner outlined in its new statement.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: FCC Tells Hotels They Can’t Legally Block Wi-Fi Hotspots
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