Marriott Won’t Try To Block Guest Wifi

Late last year Marriott was fined $600,000 by the FCC for using wifi blocking technology at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Obviously hotels would love to be able to prevent guests from bringing their own wifi, so that they can charge exorbitant amounts for it, though they also don’t own the airwaves, so don’t really have the right to do that.

In my opinion the worst part wasn’t even what Marriott did initially, but rather how they tried to justify it, claiming they were doing nothing wrong, and were just trying to protect their customers:

Marriott says it did nothing wrong and it’s the FCC’s policies that need changing.

“Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” Jeff Flaherty, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

Since they feel they did nothing wrong, they petitioned the FCC. Obviously this got quite a bit of backlash from loyal customers, so it seems like Marriott had a change of heart:

Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels.  Marriott remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels.  We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices.

Interestingly Marriott isn’t actually withdrawing their petition with the FCC, though at least they’re admitting their customers are right… as much as a company will do that.

What do you think — is Marriott doing this due to actual guest feedback, because they know they won’t win with the FCC, or…?

Hotel-Wifi

Comments

  1. I recently stayed in a $300+ a night business oriented hotel (Radisson Sydney) and the wifi was slow to the point of being useless. The hotel didn’t even offer an option for paid faster internet. 3g and 4g via my phone was just fine and I used that much of the time. I don’t understand why hotels don’t take fast network access seriously. I would never stay at this hotel again for this very reason.

  2. Presumably you are right.

    Tom – the Radisson Blu Sydney is a nice property, but because wi-fi is free for all the internet gets very slow when the hotel is full, or at times when everyone is in their rooms using it. We’re surprised the hotel hasn’t increased capacity or something, because this has been a problem for ages (and they have had complimentary guest wi-fi for ages).

  3. “is Marriott doing this due to actual guest feedback, because they know they won’t win with the FCC”

    I suspect it’s a combination of both, although I wouldn’t want to put a percentage on either one.

  4. @miles down under. I totally understand the whole free=slow thing, but it was slower than 3g on a phone all the time. At 2am, at 6am, in the middle of the day etc. I almost wish they offered a paid fast lane option. I did have more success with the Ethernet port at the desk, but that doesn’t help with the laptop, ipad and phone that don’t have Ethernet (and I can’t set up my work laptop to share an Ethernet connection with other devices).

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