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Marriott to pay $600,000 settlement for jamming Wi-Fi hotspots

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Marriott will pay $600,000 to settle a Federal Communications Commission investigation into an incident in one of its hotels where employees were jamming Wi-Fi hotspots, ostensibly so that the hotel could charge customers to use the its own networks. The issue occurred at Marriott's Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where the commission discovered, after receiving a complaint, that at least some number of Marriott employees were using a jammer to block internet access in conference rooms, which would be in violation of the Communications Act. At the same time, that Marriott was selling internet services at the rate of $250 to $1,000 per access point.

"It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network," Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, says in a statement. "This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing internet access altogether." This investigation was limited in scope to this one Marriott location, but the hotel chain's agreement with the commission requires that it put into place safeguards to prevent this from happening at other locations too. Marriott did not respond to a request for comment.