Marriott Fined $600,000 For Blocking Customer's Personal Wireless Connections
A major pet peeve of mine while traveling is having to endure the ridiculous fees that hotels charge you to get online. A very capable home Internet connection might cost you about $60/mo, but many hotels see nothing wrong with charging you $15 per day - and even then, the performance you get from your connection could be measured in a couple of megabits (and not to mention be sporadic in reliability, to boot).
Hotels could give out free Internet if they wanted to (and to be fair, many do), but it's one of those services that today, people need, and so it's a perfect way to bolster revenue. Even then, $15/night is ridiculous, but people pay it because it's better than having no Internet at all. That's unless your mobile Internet is sufficient enough, of course.
The advent of mobile Internet is something hotel chains like Marriott are not too fond of, because that means it's not so easy to sell its temporary tenants so little for a lot of money. A saving grace is when companies drop by to hold conferences on the premises - real money can be made there. But even then, if everyone has access to mobile Internet, why would the company bother?
The big reason: Because cellular performance tends to be horrible when in a room jam-packed with people, and the fact that there's rarely clear signals inside large buildings to begin with. But it's been discovered that a Marriott in Nashville took things a little too far in getting these companies to pay: It effectively blocked personal wireless signals from working properly, forcing companies to shell out for the hotel's Internet. That's a big no-no, and fortunately, Marriott has been punished. The result, as the title suggests, is a $600,000 fine.
With this coming to light, I can't help but wonder if I've been the victim of this signal blocking in the past. I can't remember the last time I've been in a conference room at a hotel where my phone's signal wasn't complete rubbish - where getting 2 bars is considered a miracle. If this is in fact a widespread problem, hopefully other hotels will be ousted, or Marriott's lesson will be learned by all. You'd have to sell a lot of conference space to make up for a fine like this.