It’s uncanny how often otherwise zippy mobile hotspots suddenly fail once you walk into a hotel conference room. Could somebody be blocking their signal?
The FCC has found at least one hotel that actually did it. Marriott’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. And the commission busted the hotel for doing so. Marriott will pay a $600,000 fine for the offense. You can read the FCC Order here.
The investigation started when the FCC got a complaint in 2013 from a person who suspected that the hotel was blocking his hotspot. The complaint alleged that the Gaylord Opryland was “jamming mobile hotspots so that you can’t use them in the convention space.”
The complaint continues: “It happened once at [another Gaylord property and we] complained, gave them the router name and they unblocked. Now working in the property in Nashville and you can get a few minutes in the am then they jam you. Won’t work in the ballrooms.”
Sure enough, after the FCC investigated, it found that Marriott employees had used a jamming device to block the hotspots’ connections.
“The growing use of technologies that unlawfully block consumers from creating their own Wi-Fi networks via their personal hotspot devices unjustifiably prevents consumers from enjoying services they have paid for and stymies the convenience and innovation associated with Wi-Fi Internet access,” the FCC said.
Facilities like airports and hotels that sell Wi-Fi access certainly have a motive for blocking hotspots. That’s why it’s likely that Marriott isn’t the only offender. It just got caught.
Marriott admitted 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.
Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we’ll share the data with you.