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A worldwide hotel chain cheated to boost Wi-Fi fees

A worldwide hotel chain cheated to boost Wi-Fi fees
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These days it's almost impossible to go anywhere and not see people on their smartphones. These smarter, faster and stronger phones are also more connected than ever before.

But not if you stayed at one particular hotel.

Marriott Hotel Services must pay a fine of $600,000 to the FCC for denying customers a crucial amenity, one that many folks consider essential to everyday life.

We're talking about the Internet.

The Gaylord Opryland Marriott Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee was accused of blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots and charging customers exorbitant fees to connect to the Internet. We're talking $250-$1,000 to connect to the hotel Wi-Fi.

Per gadget.

This accusation comes from 2013 when a hotel guest complained that the hotel was "jamming mobile hotspots so you can’t use them in the convention space," according to the nearly 10-page report issued last week. You can see the entire report here. 

But Marriott, despite admitting to blocking guests' personal hotspots, stands by the actions of the Gaylord Opryland Marriott.  The hotel stated that "one or more of its employees used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the Gaylord Opryland to prevent consumers from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks."

The hotel offers Wi-Fi connections at hugely expensive prices, but it also has "monitoring system" that disables personal hotspots trying to connect on the same network. This flies in the face of an FCC advisory that "forbids blocking, jamming, or interference with authorized radio communications, including Wi-Fi."

However, Jeff Flaherty, spokesperson for Marriot, said the following in a public statement:

"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 ...

"Like many other institutions and companies in a wide variety of industries, including hospitals and universities, the GaylordOpryland protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers," Flaherty said. "We believe that the Opryland's actions were lawful. We will continue to encourage the FCC to pursue a rulemaking in order to eliminate the ongoing confusion resulting from today's action and to assess the merits of its underlying policy."

Seems to me like someone didn't want to lose a cash cow. But now Marriott is literally paying for its brazen mistake. You can see the FCC commission document in it's entirety by clicking here.

What do you think? Was Marriott completely in the wrong? Have you had a similar experience? Let me know in the comments below!

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Source: Ars Technica
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