Although Marriott Closed Door On Wi-Fi Blocking Efforts, FCC Slaps On Deadbolt

After being hit with a $600,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission over its Wi-Fi blocking efforts, the Marriott International thought better of its ill-advised policy and vowed to no longer block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of its managed hotels. Score a point for consumers, and kudos to the FCC, which has now taken things a step further by outright prohibiting people and businesses from intentionally interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots.

In an FCC Enforcement Advisory issued this week, the FCC noted a "disturbing trend" by hotels and other commercial establishments whereby they've taken it upon themselves to block wireless users from utilizing their own Wi-Fi hotspots.

Image Source: Flickr (Tony Kent)

"Personal Wi-Fi networks, or 'hotspots', are an important way that consumers connect to the Internet," the FCC said. "Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal. Wi-Fi blocking violates Section 333 of the Communications Act, as amended."

As a result of the amended Act, the FCC promised to protect consumers by "aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference."

What set this all in motion was the Marriott deciding to block hotspots at its Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The hotel chain had installed jamming equipment in conference rooms to intentionally block Wi-Fi signals from people's personal devices, and then proceeded to charge anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for high-speed Internet access.