Marriott International, a large chain of hotels and resorts, was recently cited in an FCC investigation stemming from several complaints that they improperly (and illegally) restricted access to WiFi and mobile hotspots -- and at the same time, charged guests as much as $1,000 per device to access the hotel's WiFi network.
But news of a settlement has been unveiled in a press release by the FCC, confirming that Marriott has agreed to cease their unlawful use of "WiFi-blocking technology," as well as pay a $600,000 civil penalty to resolve the investigation.
According to FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc, who heads the commission's consumer protection and homeland security enforcement, Marriott's decision to block guest WiFi infringes on the expectations of customers to have easy access to the services they pay for.
It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether.
Marriott maintains that the WiFi blocking was indeed legal, and was only intended to ensure that guests would be protected from "rogue wireless hotspots."