Wi-Fi hotspot blocking persists despite FCC crackdown
The FCC has slapped hotels and other organizations with nearly $2.1 million in fines since the fall of 2014 for blocking patrons’ portable Wi-Fi hotspots in the name of IT security, or more likely, to gouge customers for Internet service. But Network World’s examination of more than a year’s worth of consumer complaints to the FCC about Wi-Fi jamming shows that not all venue operators are getting the message (see infographic below).
Indeed, more than half of the 50-plus complaints whose contents we pored through following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FCC came within the few months after the FCC’s initial action on this matter, a $600,000 fine on Marriott in October of 2014. Another two dozen complaints trickled in to the FCC in 2015 – a year that began with the FCC serving stern notice that Wi-Fi blocking is prohibited and ended with the agency dishing out a $718,000 fine to big electrical contracting company M.C. Dean for blocking consumers’ Wi-Fi connections and a $25,000 fine to Hilton Worldwide for “apparent obstruction of an investigation” into whether Hilton blocked consumers’ Wi-Fi devices. The spectrum used by Wi-Fi is unlicensed, and therefore available for broad use.