Several top-notch hotels such as Marriott International, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and Ryman Hospitality have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow them to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots of patrons.
If the FCC grants the request, then it spells disaster for patrons who will have no option but to use the hotel's Wi-Fi service despite paying their network operator for setting up a hotspot anywhere.
Moreover, patrons would be compelled to pay Marriott or any other hotel for using their Wi-Fi services, which could prove expensive.
Earlier in October, Marriott Hotel Services was fined $600,000 by the FCC as the hotel chain jammed signals from personal Wi-Fi hotspots of guests. This forced patrons to use the hotel's network, priced from $250 to $1000 at each access point. Even though Marriott paid the fine, it justified its action by saying that it was trying to protect the patrons from "rogue wireless hotspots."
Marriott filed a petition to the FCC on Nov. 19, asking the commission to green-light the move.
However, guests have found allies in Microsoft, Google and trade groups from the wireless industry, such as the CTIA, which have opposed the petition.
"While Google recognizes the importance of leaving operators flexibility to manage their own networks, this does not include intentionally blocking access to other Commission-authorized networks, particularly where the purpose or effect of that interference is to drive traffic to the interfering operator's own network (often for a fee)," said Google in its filing.
Microsoft also asked the FCC to reject the hotel's request. The CTIA also opposed the blockage of Wi-Fi hotspots.
"The public is best served by increasing the potential for these networks, not allowing an individual Wi-Fi network manager unilaterally to shut them down," the CTIA told the FCC.
Marriott, however, has the support of other hoteliers, which say that the hotel chain was simply exercising "reasonable network management practices."