October 6, 2014 — Marriott International will pay a civil penalty of $600,000 to settle the FCC’s investigation into allegations that the hotel interfered with and disabled Wi-Fi networks at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
In March 2013, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau received a complaint alleging that the hotel was “jamming mobile hotspots so that that they can’t be used in the convention space.” The complainant said he had been jammed at another Gaylord property. After complaining to the management and giving them the router name, he was unblocked.
“Now working in the [Gaylord] property in Nashville and you can get a few minutes in the morning then they jam you. [Mobile hotspots] won’t work in the ballrooms,” The complainant wrote.
Marriott admitted that it used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system that prevent consumers from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks, which is a violation of Section 333 of the Communications Act.
Marriott said it was ensuring that guests using its Wi-Fi service are protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can implement cyberattacks and identity theft, according to the company.
“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,” Marriott said in a prepared release.
Through signing a Consent Decree, Marriott is also required to develop and implement a compliance plan, and to submit periodic compliance and usage reports, including use of containment functions of Wi-Fi monitoring systems.