Marriott announced Wednesday it will stop blocking guests' personal Wi-Fi devices, after a flood of complaints about the practice.
"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," the company said in a statement posted on its website.
The Federal Communications Commission fined the hotel chain $600,000 in October for blocking guests from using personal Wi-Fi hotspots in conference rooms and meeting spaces, calling it a violation of federal communications law. Marriott claimed its actions were legal and that it was just trying to protect against cyber attacks. It asked the FCC to be allowed to continue to block Wi-Fi devices in its hotels.
"The question at hand is what measures a network operator can take to detect and contain rogue and imposter Wi-Fi hotspots used in our meeting and conference spaces that pose a security threat," Marriott said in a statement released earlier this month. The hotel noted it wasn't blocking the devices in guest rooms or lobbies.
Marriott's petition to the FCC was supported by the American Hospitality and Lodging Association, which is the lobbying organization for the hotel industry, as well as Hilton Worldwide.
Customers were quick to speak out against Marriott's actions, and many said Marriott was only blocking Wi-Fi devices in order to milk more money out of its guests. The hotel has charged anywhere from $250 to $1,000 to access its conference room wireless network, according to the FCC.
Personal Wi-Fi devices, which allow you to establish an Internet hotspot on your smartphone or mobile device, are useful in hotel conference rooms and meeting areas, especially when the hotel's network is overwhelmed by the number of people trying to use it. Marriott was using Wi-Fi jammers to prevent guests from using these devices.
"We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices," Marriott said in its statement on Thursday.