Hotel Wi-Fi is a great thing for travelers - see which hotels have the fastest Wi-Fi. You can connect your laptop, tablet or smartphone to the Internet and avoid using your expensive cellular data plan.
Of course, not everyone wants to use public Wi-Fi for sensitive surfing, and some hotels charge a pretty penny for the service. That's when you might consider turning your phone and its cellular connection into a Wi-Fi hotspot to power your Wi-Fi-only laptop or tablet instead. Or bringing your own standalone Wi-Fi hotspot that you've purchased from your cellular provider.
Unfortunately, that tactic doesn't sit well with some hotel chains. The American Hospitality & Lodging Association, with Marriott at the forefront, asked the FCC to let them block third-party Wi-Fi hotspots.
They claimed it interferes with the hotel Wi-Fi and can make it worse for other guests. When the FCC didn't go for it, Marriott decided to act anyway.
Marriott installed Wi-Fi blockers to shut down any networks but the ones it broadcasts. The FCC found out after an event in October at a hotel in Nashville.
The hotel owner was charging people $250 to $1,000 per gadget. The FCC fined Marriott $600,000.
The FCC said that consumers who have bought data plans from their own service providers should be able to use them instead of paying the hotel up to $1,000 per device to use its own Wi-Fi facilities.
Google and Microsoft have weighed in as well.
"If a customer arrives at a hotel with her own Mi-Fi device and the hotel interferes with the customer's connection to that personal hotspot, the hotel can effectively force the customer to purchase the hotel's Wi-Fi services to gain access, even though the customer has already paid her mobile operator for personal hotspot capability," said Microsoft in a filing to the FCC opposing Marriott's request.
Google agreed with Microsoft that blocking internet hotspots "would undermine the public interest."
Of course, hotels aren't the only places to find Wi-Fi while you're traveling. Click here to find free Wi-Fi wherever you go.