Thursday, January 15, 2015

Marriott Says They'll Stop Blocking Customer Device Wi-Fi

by Karl Bode 11:20AM Thursday Jan 15 2015 DSL Reports

Back in October we noted that Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to the FCC for blocking user access to their own tethered phones or mobile hotspots, instead forcing convention center attendees to use Marriott's pricey Wi-Fi. At the time we noted how this was a pretty clear example of Marriott simply using technology in an uncompetitive fashion, though in filings since Marriott has attempted to argue they were only looking out for the welfare and security of their customers.

Hotels have since petitioned the FCC for clarity on when it is or isn't ok to block Wi-Fi since, they argue, this is common practice for hospitals, at some corporate campuses, or at events like Defcon.

The law prevents companies from "willfully or maliciously” interfering with “any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized” by the government, something Marriott insists shouldn't apply to Wi-Fi.

Of course the deck was stacked against Marriott, with Google, Microsoft, and the nation's biggest carriers all filing their own comments against Marriott's plans. Facing those deep pocketed companies, the ire of regulators, and consumer outrage, Marriott has now posted a company statement saying they'll no longer block Wi-Fi devices:
quote:Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels. Marriott remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels. We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices.

Which is good, since this is a fight Marriott was simply not going to win.

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