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article imageGoogle & Microsoft fight hotels banning personal Wi-Fi hotspots

By James Walker     Dec 24, 2014 in Technology
Microsoft and Google are amongst other big-name companies joining together to lobby the FCC into declining a petition by the hotel industry that requests permission to block users' personal Wi-Fi hotspots whilst staying in the hotel.
The petition set up by the hotel industry requests permission from the FCC to block guests' Wi-Fi hotspots created by their phone or tablet whilst on the hotel premises.
They cite the need to provide a "secure and reliable" connection as the reasoning behind the dubious claim, arguing that customers freely using their own internet connections creates interference with the hotel Wi-Fi equipment, but many see it as a simple ploy to get more money from customers.
The petition is an echo of the incident in October when the Marriotts hotel chain was forced to pay a $600,000 penalty for blocking the Wi-Fi hotspots of guests. The FCC found that they improperly and illegally blocked access to mobile hotspots before forcing guests to pay up to $1,000 per device for access to the chain's own connection.
Marriotts argued that the restrictions were enforced to protect other guests from "rogue wireless hotspots" but FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc thought otherwise, saying at the time "It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether."
It is likely that a similar judgement will arise from the new petition by the hotel industry. Many, including Google, Microsoft and the other opposing companies, see it as a method used by the hotel chains to force customers to buy expensive internet access from the hotel, increasing profits for the chain.
They also argue that the hotels are taking control of unlicensed wireless frequency bands that they are not entitled to regulate. They think that everyone, including the ordinary consumer using their phone's wireless hotspot functionality normally, should have equal rights on these airwaves. You can view the petition online.
More about Hotel, Guest, Wifi, Hotspot, Microsoft
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