FCC warns hotels against blocking Wi-Fi hotspots

Don’t block the hotspot. It’ll cost you.

The Federal Communications Commission warned Tuesday that hotels, convention centers and businesses cannot block personal Wi-Fi hotspots in order to make people buy Internet service.

The enforcement advisory comes after Marriott was fined $600,000 for knocking people offline who tried to use their cell phones as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Marriott and other hotel operators lobbied the FCC to change its rules. Technology rivals Google and Microsoft allied against the hotels.

The FCC, which called Wi-Fi “an essential on-ramp to the Internet,” said it received several complaints of Wi-Fi blocking after the Marriott fine was announced.

Federal law prohibits the sale or use of jamming equipment that might disrupt Wi-Fi or cell phone signals.

People who suspect that Wi-Fi blocking can file a complaint with the the FCC on its website or by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.

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