If you're like most travelers, you probably never suspected that your hotel was blocking your personal hot spot. But in October, after Marriott was fined $600,000 by the FCC for blocking Wi-Fi access at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, the issue suddenly popped up on road warriors' agendas. (You can see our best-and-worst of hotel Wi-Fi here.)
On Wednesday, after a legal and public relations battle, Marriott issued a statement to Inc. saying, in effect, that it had given up its quest to be allowed to block guests' personal hot spots. "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," a spokesman said in an email.
On December 30, Marriott said it did not intend to block personal hot spots in guests' rooms, but was asking the FCC to be able to do so in conference facilities. In today's statement, Marriott says it is no longer seeking to block guests' personal hot spots anywhere on its properties, but is still looking at potential security issues and looking at ways to resolve them without resorting to blocking guests' devices.
The reference to listening to customers could refer in part to the multiple letters the FCC has received on this issue. After Marriott was fined, it joined with the American Hotel and Lodging Association to request that the FCC change the rules and allow it to block personal hot spots. Marriott said it was concerned about rogue access devices and fraud, although some industry analysts said the issue had more to do with the potentially lucrative income stream to be had by selling Wi-Fi services to convention-goers and exhibitors.
In its statement on Wednesday, Marriott says it "remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels." It said it would continue to work with the FCC and to find "appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices."