The FCC and Marriott have come to an agreement on allegations that the hotel chain puprosefully jammed its customers' Wi-Fi. The civil penalty will amount to $600,000 for the largest hotel company in the world.
The whole thing started with a complaint, which the FCC received in March of 2013. The complainant, who had recently stayed at Marriott's Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, said that Marriott was “jamming mobile hotspots so that you can’t use them in the convention space.”
Marriott admitted to (how's this for clever wording) using "containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system", which prevented many guests from using their own Wi-Fi networks – either through a personal hotspot or third-party device. Because of course they did.
At the Gaylord Opryland hotel, Wi-Fi is included in your $18-per-night resort fee, but you can upgrade to “enhanced high speed” internet for just $6.99 a day. Because of course you can.
And from GigaOm:
Marriott also offers services like custom private networks for its business customers, which can cost anywhere from $250 to $1000 per wireless access point.
Because of course they do. Shucks, sure would be a shame is something were to happen to your hotspot...oh damn, there it goes.
Despite being a dick move, this is also illegal. From the FCC:
"Section 333 of the Communications Act provides that 'No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this Act or operated by the United States Government.' The Bureau previously has indicated that the use of jammers to interfere with Wi-Fi transmissions violates Section 333.3."
Long story short, if you notice your hotspot isn't working in a hotel, you might not want to chalk it up to coincidence. If you think that Marriott were the only ones doing this, well, I envy your optimism.
Image via Wikimedia Commons