Marriott CIO: FCC message on WiFi blocking loud and clear

The FCC's sternly worded warning about illegal Wi-Fi blocking earlier this week got through to at least one organization: Marriott International's Global CIO issued a statement Friday that the hospitality outfit is withdrawing efforts to gain clarification from the commission on what methods can be used to protect corporate Wi-Fi networks.

The FCC's sternly worded warning about illegal Wi-Fi blocking earlier this week got through to at least one organization: Marriott International's Global CIO issued a statement Friday that the hospitality outfit is withdrawing efforts to gain clarification from the commission on what methods can be used to protect corporate Wi-Fi networks.

It was a complaint against a Marriott hotel in Nashville that blocked visitors from using personal Wi-Fi hotspots at a convention center -- and a subsequent $600K fine by the FCC -- that sparked the FCC's investigation into what it now calls a "disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment's premises."

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Guests, as well as tech companies such as Google and Microsoft, came out in opposition to hotels blocking Wi-Fi hotspots in the wake of the Marriott complaints.

Marriott announced in mid-January that it would not block guests from using Wi-Fi hotspots, but did indicate it would continue to work with the FCC to clarify what organizations could do to secure their Wi-Fi networks.

Now, Marriott is stepping away from the FCC altogether on the matter. Here's the full statement issued under the name of Marriott Global CIO Bruce Hoffmeister:

"Marriott International has decided to withdraw as a party to the petition seeking direction from the FCC on legal Wi-Fi security measures. Our intent was to protect personal data in Wi-Fi hotspots for large conferences. We thought we were doing the right thing asking the FCC to provide guidance, but the FCC has indicated its opposition. As we have said, we will not block Wi-Fi signals at any hotel we manage for any reason. And, as of January 15, we provide free Wi-Fi to all members of our Marriott Rewards program who book directly with us. We're doing everything we can to promote our customers' connectivity using mobile and other devices, and we're working with the industry to find security solutions that do not involve blocking our guests' use of their Wi-Fi devices."

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