"Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action,” the FCC said, referencing a dispute between Marriott and its customers who said the hotel chain had blocked their personal hotspots to force them to pay for Marriott’s Wi-Fi services.
"The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises,” the FCC wrote. "As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.”
This is a victory for consumers and a knockdown blow for Marriott and other hotels - at least for now.
The FCC stated bluntly, "No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network. Such action is illegal and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.” The FCC has the authority to regulate airwaves, and it has maintained that Wi-Fi goes out over an unlicensed band of spectrum that does not belong to any particular company.
The consumer doesn't often win - I hope the FCC stays the course!
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