In the past year, the FCC seems to have made it a priority to punish companies who are blocking the lawful use of Wi-Fi hotspots. The latest: the Commission is proposing to fine a company $718,000 for blocking Wi-Fi at the Baltimore Convention Center, and looking into whether Hilton Hotels may have done the same.
Hilton allegedly obstructing investigation
The company hit with the major fine, M.C. Dean, charges "as much as $1,095 per event for Wi-Fi access" at the convention center, according to the FCC. But the Commission says, to keep its exclusive access more exclusive, the company routinely blocked Wi-Fi access from hotspots in the area, ensuring that visitors wouldn't be able to independently get connected.
The FCC is apparently looking into whether Hilton Hotels may have similarly blocked access. Although a determination hasn't been made, the FCC did propose a $25,000 fine against the company today for allegedly obstructing an investigation into any wrongdoing. The Commission says it's requested documents and information on Hilton properties that the company has failed to provide in full. The FCC is warning that more fines could be in store unless Hilton turns them over.
Last year, the FCC hit three companies with six-figure fines for allegedly blocking Wi-Fi. The most high-profile among them was Marriott, which was fined $600,000 by the Commission.