Marriott International will need to pay as much as US$600,000 to the government for blocking own Wi-Fi network of conference attendees in one of its hotels and forcing guests to use the hotel’s Wi-Fi network that is paid.
According to numerous reports, the problem appeared in the following Marriott managed property the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. Guests noticed that their devices were jammed by Marriott, and so they filled a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission. Instead of using their own Wi-Fi network, attendees were forced to pay between US$250 to US$1000 to use the Wi-Fi service by Gaylord. The FCC prohibited any further use of Wi-Fi blocking technologies by Marriott and forced the hotelier pay US$600,000 civil penalty.
Marriott agreed to pay the fine, but defended its practice of jamming guests’ Wi-Fi networks. The company said they didn’t have any intention to make guests pay more for Wi-Fi access, but they were protecting their network. Moreover, such actions are legal and were even encouraged by the FCC before in some of its documents. The hotelier wants to make sure its guests use safe Wi-Fi service without any cyber-attacks and identity theft. Same practice is used in many hospitals and universities. The position of the government on the subject is clear if guests have purchased cellular data plans, they should be able to use them without any blocking.