This week Marriott agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve a Wi-Fi blocking investigation that was being conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The issue with the FCC revolved around an investigation into whether Marriott intentionally interfered with and even disabled Wi-Fi networks that its customers had established in Marriott’s conference facilities at their Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Conference Center located in Nashville, Tennessee. The FCC in their news release said their enforcement bureau investigation revealed that Marriott employees had used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the property to prevent individuals from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks. This allowed Marriott to charge those same customers, small businesses and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network.
I’ve always been amazed that when you stay at some of the biggest and best resorts that you have to pay for Wi-Fi access, whereas when you stay at a Hampton Inn, it’s not only FREE Wi-Fi but they also include a really wonderful breakfast too.
According to the FCC, “Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center.” Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc added, “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether.”
And it’s not just your right to receive a personal hotspot on your smart phone, tablet or laptop but also those same rights extends to TV antennas and satellite dishes.
In 1999, the FCC amended its rules so that even renters could erect a satellite dish in “exclusive use areas” such as a balcony or patio. Then in 2000, the FCC added that it also applied to “customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals.”
You have a right to receive over-the-air signals.
The $600,000 education and three-year compliance plan that Marriott just got from the FCC hopefully will have other hotel chains and conference centers sitting up and taking notice that you don’t need to be a federally licensed broadcaster to receive a monetary slap on the wrist from the Federal Communications Commission.
You might want to make a note of this case in case you ever find your service is being blocked. Here’s a link to the FCC’s press release: http://www.fcc.gov/document/marriott-pay-600k-resolve-wifi-blocking-investigation