The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Jan 27 warned hotels and other entities
against blocking personal Wi-Fi access, or hot spots, saying it was illegal and could incur
heavy fines."The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other
commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi
hot spots on the commercial establishment's premises," the agency said in a statement on
its website. Official document can be viewed here: FCC document
It said an investigation at a resort hotel and convention center in 2014 had found Marriott
International Inc had blocked consumer access to hot spots, and it warned that such activities
could lead to heavy fines.
It said it was "aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference,"
and advised consumers who suspected such activities to file a complaint with the FCC. The Wall
Street Journal, which first reported the story, said Marriott had agreed to settle the case by paying
a $600,000 civil penalty for the action at its Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in
The paper said the Marriott had petitioned the FCC to change its policy. "The Communications
Act prohibits anyone from willfully or maliciously interfering with authorized radio communications,
including Wi-Fi. Marriott's request seeking the FCC's blessing to block guests' use of non-Marriott
networks is contrary to this basic principle," it quoted FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler as saying.
The Journal said a Marriott spokesman had referred to a statement it made earlier this month that
it would not block guests from using personal Wi-Fi devices.