Marriott agrees not to block personal Wi-Fi networks

WiFi-hotelMarriott International says it will stop blocking guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at its hotels after receiving customer complaints.

“Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels,” the Bethesda, Md.-based company said in a statement on its website.

Marriott, along with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and Ryman Hospitality Properties, had petitioned the Federal Communications Commission last summer to clarify whether or not hotels can disable people’s ability to use their mobile phones as personal Wi-Fi hotspots in their conference centers. Marriott had argued that allowing people to do so could expose its hotels to cyberattacks.

Google, Microsoft, and other wireless providers had asked the FCC to reject Marriott’s request. Soon after, customers became more vocal with their complaints against the practice, arguing that Marriott was trying to force them into paying for the hotel’s Wi-Fi.

In its statement on Wednesday, Marriott said it would continue to seek guidance from the FCC as to what it can do to keep its network secure.

“Marriott remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels,” the company wrote. “We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices.”

The FCC in October fined Marriott $600,000 for blocking customers from using their personal Wi-Fi networks at conferences and then charging them from $250 to $1,000 per device for access to the hotel network. >more