FCC Fines Marriott For Disabling WiFi Hot Spots

Hotel Chain Must Report to Agency on Compliance

The FCC said Friday that Marriott had admitted its employees improperly blocked mobile hot spots and has agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve an FCC investigation.

According to the FCC, Marriott intentionally blocked WiFi networks of consumers in its conference facilities at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville in violation of the law.

Marriott employees used a monitoring system to identify and prevent individuals from connecting to the Internet via their own WiFi nets, while charging consumers, businesses and exhibitors up to $1,000 per device to access Marriott's own WiFi network.

"“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,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in announcing the consent decree. “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.

In addition to paying the fine, Marriott has agreed to stop blocking and must institute a compliance plan and report regularly to the FCC every three months for three years.