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Marriott International agreed to pay a $600,000 penalty for jamming guests’ mobile Wi-Fi hotspots at a hotel and conference facility in Nashville, Tenn. In a consent decree filed with the Federal Communications Commission, Marriott acknowledged that “one or more of its employees used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the Gaylord Opryland to prevent consumers from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks.”

At the same time, the FCC says, the hotel was charging consumers, small businesses, and exhibitors from $250 to $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network. “Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, in a statement. “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.”

Asked to elaborate on its Wi-Fi management technology and to explain whether interfering with guests’ Wi-Fi was official policy or the unauthorized action of one or more employees, Marriott responded with an emailed statement:

“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. Like many other institutions and companies in a wide variety of industries, including hospitals and universities, the Gaylord Opryland protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers. We believe that the Gaylord Opryland’s actions were lawful. We will continue to encourage the FCC to pursue a rulemaking in order to eliminate the ongoing confusion resulting from today’s action and to assess the merits of its underlying policy.”