Marriott Blocks Customers’ Hotspots, Fined $600,000

The Federal Communications Commission fined a Marriott International Inc. hotel in New York City $600,000 for blocking customers’ personal Wi-Fi devices. In a statement issued last Friday, the FCC said that the hotel blocked mobile “hotspots” at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, forcing customers to pay as much as $1,000 to use the hotel’s Wi-Fi.

FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said in the statement that “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,” according to Bloomberg. “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,” he said.

Bloomberg reports that in some instances, Marriott blocked Internet access at the hotel’s conference center. Those who attended the conference were charged between $250 and $1,000 per device to access the Gaylord Wi-Fi. Marriott denies wrongdoing.

Marriott, which is based in Bethesda, Maryland, is the second-largest publicly traded hotel chain in the world. As part of a consent decree with the FCC, Marriott cannot continue to use Wi-Fi blocking technology. Additionally, the company must file compliance and usage reports quarterly for three years.

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