FCC Warns Hotels About Intentionally Blocking Wi-Fi Hotspots

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday issued a public enforcement advisory that warns hotel chains and other commercial establishments about intentionally blocking or interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau claims that interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal and that it will take appropriate action against violators by imposing substantial fines.

instanthotspot
The warning follows an FCC investigation in which the government agency discovered a so-called "disturbing trend" where hotels and other commercial establishments were purposefully blocking wireless customers from connecting to their Wi-Fi hotspots. Marriott Hotels was found to have "deployed a Wi-Fi deauthentication protocol" to block customers from accessing Wi-Fi and agreed to pay a $600,000 fine.

iPhone users have long resorted to Personal Hotspot to turn their cellular data connection into a Wi-Fi network for the purpose of tethering a Mac or other connected device. Apple made Personal Hotspot more convenient in iOS 8 with Instant Hotspot, a new feature that automatically detects when an iPhone is within close range of an iPad or Mac and displays the device in the list of available Wi-Fi networks.



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19 months ago
Very good use of government authority. Thank you, FCC.
Rating: 18 Votes
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19 months ago

I would rather if the free market had just taken care of this, but since that wasn't happening, I'm glad the FCC stepped in.



Your precious "free market" is a myth. Hence, why the government steps in to save the day, as usual. :rolleyes:
Rating: 15 Votes
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19 months ago
You'd think it would alleviate their WIFI congestion a bit. But nooo, the almighty dollar wins again. Overpriced dollar that is. Hotel Wifi is crazy expensive for what you get (most of the time)
Rating: 12 Votes
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19 months ago
I'm surprised they don't attempt to block cellular traffic in order to sell more phone service.
Rating: 10 Votes
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19 months ago

It should be downright illegal. I've never really understood the regulations and rules users need to adjust too regarding hotspots. Luckily we don't have any of that in Europe. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't carriers try to add additional fees for using the hotspot functionality in the iPhone, which is a feature that comes with the phone?


It is downright illegal. The problem is there isn't really a good way of accurately reporting a hotel for doing this. The FCC should make an app that allows a user to voluntarily upload their wifi connection logs and report a hotel for doing this.
Rating: 8 Votes
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19 months ago
The practice was quite shady to begin with, hopefully it will be a thing of the past very soon.
Rating: 6 Votes
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19 months ago
Hotel companies originally signed deals with vendors to wire thier hotels and provide wifi essentially free. The vendor, in return, got exclusive rights to gain revenue from people connecting to the network. At lower priced hotels, due to competition, the hotels eat the cost and give you free internet access. But at higher end hotels, they still charge for access and probably due to the commitment to the vendor instituted these shady practices to ensure they were driving enough revenue to meet committment. (disclosure - I have some insider information on this, although part of my comments are speculation based on the facts that I know).

This is also true about the TV. It is killing their revenue when folks attach a chrome cast or Roku stick and stream their own movies instead of purchasing in-room movies.

Hotels used to make money from phones and TVs. As phone revenue went away, internet revenue helped. Now they are getting little revenue from TV, Phone, or Internet. They will need to find another way to make money (maybe raising room rates).
Rating: 5 Votes
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19 months ago

I would rather if the free market had just taken care of this, but since that wasn't happening, I'm glad the FCC stepped in.


There is no free market in hotel wifi. It's not like I can decide to not use their wifi and jump on the next wifi on the list. I'm trapped and they know it, that's why they want to kill hotspots to force you onto their crappy wifi at a fee.
Rating: 5 Votes
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19 months ago

I would rather if the free market had just taken care of this, but since that wasn't happening, I'm glad the FCC stepped in.


This has nothing to do with the "market". The Wi-Fi band was expressly created for everyone, as long as they abide by the rules for access.

Marriott was intentionally interfering with other users, denying them access to something they were required by law to share. Their reasons may have been financial, but there are many businesses that are still doing the same thing for non-financial reasons. It's still illegal.

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How is that even legal or useful for consumers or enterprise? To jam or disrupt wireless-signals? Sounds like the first steps to digital warfare (exaggeration).


I believe that Cisco's original intent was to detect and disable rogue access points. If someone buys a common consumer AP, takes it into their employer's building, and plugs it into the wired network at their office desk, it's a real security problem.

However, that doesn't make it legal: the proper response to detecting a rogue access point is to disable it on the "wired" side, by blocking the MAC address. However, this is much more difficult.

This feature pre-dated the wide availability of wireless hotspots. I don't think that Cisco realized (at the time) that it would interfere with legitimate users sharing the same "space".
Rating: 5 Votes
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19 months ago

Your precious "free market" is a myth. Hence, why the government steps in to save the day, as usual. :rolleyes:


A free market needs some level of governmental support to resolve disputes, protect rights, and enforce contracts but your mythical paradise where the government runs everything from on high doesn't exist.

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I never pay for wifi in an hotel. If free wifi is not part of the deal, then I will stay somewhere else.


The lower the hotel room rate, the more likely that wi-fi is included.
Rating: 3 Votes
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