Marriott Fined $600,000 for Jamming Customer Wi-Fi Hotspots

Posted by at 6:31 am on October 6, 2014

Marriott International has agreed to settle with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the blocking of Wi-Fi networks, by paying a $600,000 fine. The hotel chain was found to be actively blocking its customers from being able to access Wi-Fi networks from within a Nashville resort, except for the one the hotel provides.

A complaint dating back to March 2013 claimed the hotel was actively “jamming mobile hotspots” within its convention space at the Marriott Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, reports Recode. The FCC found staff had used a monitoring system that de-authenticated guest-created hotspots, rendering them useless within the hotel’s grounds. Exhibitors and visitors had the choice of continuing their business without Wi-Fi, or paying between $250 and $1,000 to use the supplied Wi-Fi service.

“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,” said FCC enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc. “This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether.”

A Marriott spokesperson told Recode that the hotel “protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers.” According to current federal law, jamming equipment that interferes with cellular and personal communication services, police radar, GPS, and Wi-Fi is prohibited from operation, marketing, and sale.

On top of the $600,000 fine, Marriott has agreed to “develop and implement a compliance plan” and submit periodic compliance reports to the FCC, at all US properties under the company’s management or ownership.

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