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Marriott Gives Up Trying to Block Your Wi-Fi—Other Hotels Better Not Try, Either

Marriott tried very hard to get the government to allow it to block your Wi-Fi signal. The hotel brand attempted to justify the act as a "security" measure, but in practice, doing so forced guests to purchase its own expensive signal if they wanted to get online while on Marriott premises.

Last fall, the federal government has slapped Marriott with a $600,000 fine for blocking guest Internet access. Despite the message sent by that huge fine, Marriott really wanted to block your Wi-Fi anyway. 

Ever since then, Marriott, backed by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, has tried to change the laws—a campaign it sanitized as "asking the FCC to provide guidance"—so that it could continue to get away with it, lobbying hard to get the rules rewritten to permit hotels across the country to block your own signal so that you'd have to buy the signal it sells.

No way, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who had delivered some very clear guidance indeed: He blasted the hotel company (read the statement here), affirmed the fine, and accompanied that public spanking with a stern warning for any other hotel that tries to scramble personal Wi-Fi signals, no matter the justification.

Today, Marriott—chagrined by regulators and embarrassed by lousy PR of its own making—gave up trying to force its agenda through, and agreed to never block Wi-Fi again. "We will not block Wi-Fi signals at any hotel we manage for any reason," Marriott finally said (read that statement here).

So score one for the consumer.

Hotels across the board will now face FCC ire if they try to mess with your airwaves.

Marriott, it's depressing to note, is the same company that recently placed envelopes for tips in guests' rooms to make up for their own staff's wage shortfalls, playing on customer pity and "gratitude" rather than just paying them better.