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Marriott fined for jamming guests’ Wi-Fi

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Marriott International must pay a $600,000 fine

Marriott International must pay a $600,000 fine for forcing conference delegates at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center to pay heavy fees to use its Wi-Fi network – by jamming delegates’ own networks.

Business travellers often take personal Wi-Fi hotspots with them. These are small devices that connect to the internet via mobile phone towers. For $50 a month in the US, they can connect to the web on the move, avoiding the large prices many hotels, airports and conference facilities charge. This can also make their smartphones into hotspots.

A conference attendee at the Opryland property in Nashville, Tennessee discovered during an event last year that the hotel was jamming devices in its ballrooms and complained to the Federal Communications Commission. The guest alleged that the same thing had happened before, at another Marriott-operated Gaylord property. Wi-Fi access in guest rooms was not affected.

Marriott charged conference organisers and exhibitors between $250 and $1,000 to use its own Wi-Fi connection, per access point. It agreed to the fine and has told hotels not to use the jamming technology. But it defended the practice of blocking guests’ own Wi-Fi networks in the interests of network security.

AP

[pictured: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center; courtesy Marriott International]

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