Marriott backs away from Wi-Fi blocking plan

Marriott International has announced that it will stop blocking its customers Wi-Fi devices in their hotels, the company has been doing this for some time. The news comes after the company recently paid a $600,000 fine following a complaint that they had blocked their guests personal hotspots.

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.

Facing criticism from guests (and many technology companies), Marriott tried to clarify its request in late December, saying the company only wanted to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots in its convention or business spaces, not guest rooms, reports ReCode.

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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 yesterday’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.

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."