Hotels Blocking Wi-Fi Access

January 30, 2015


Federal Communications Commission has been investigating hotels and other businesses for blocking the guests’ access to their own Wi-Fi hotspots and forcing them to use their networks.

Blocking Wi-Fi signal and hotspots constitutes a violation of the Communications Act, and FCC is committed to putting a stop to this illegal practice.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement, “protecting consumers from this kind of interference is a priority area for the FCC enforcement bureau”.

Some of the hotels which don’t allow access to other networks charge for using their Wi-Fi services, although the number of places that still do this decreases from year to year. The number of hotels that charged for Internet access decreased in 2013 to 11 percent, down from 23% in 2012.

The public first learned about the FCC’s efforts to prevent hotels from blocking other Wi-Fi signal last year in October, when Marriot International agreed to pay a $600,000 fine after having blocked guests at its Nashville, Tennessee hotel from using the Internet via their own hotspots.

In addition to being denied the right to use their own Wi-Fi hotspots and being charged for accessing the web, guests are also exposed to identity theft risks and illegal obtaining of their personal data when using wireless Internet in hotels.

Although Marriot International agreed to pay the fine, it defended its stance by issuing a statement saying, “Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber attacks and identity theft”.