The Federal Communications Commission fined Marriott $600,000 in October for blocking the use of personal Wi-Fi hot spots on-site at one property. The FCC’s investigation was spurred by a 2013 complaint from a guest who attempted to access the Internet in the convention area at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville.
“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 FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in a statement. “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hot spots 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,” LeBlanc added.
In its own statement, Marriott explained the reasoning behind the practice by stating the brand has “a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hot spots that can cause degraded service, cyber attacks and identity theft.” Marriott encouraged the FCC to change this policy but agreed to pay the fine without an appeal.