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These hotel brands purport that they do not block guests' or meeting attendees' personal Wi-Fi networks, but many do require that guests are a part of their loyalty program in order to exchange email addresses for free service.

The controversy over hotels’ Wi-Fi fees grew last week as news spread that Marriott International had jammed conference attendee’s personal Wi-Fi networks at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

This allowed Marriott to charge conference exhibitors $250 to $1,000, per access point, to use the Gaylord’s Wi-Fi connection. Access points provide Wi-Fi to hundreds of conference attendees, according to a Marriott spokesperson.

Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine levied by the FCC, but argued its actions were lawful and practiced at other hotels and public spaces.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

“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.”

Skift sought out other major hotel brands for a better sense of how this is handled and viewed by major corporations.

A Hilton Hotels spokesperson replied to our inquiries,  “We do not block or jam any wireless transmissions at our properties.”

Kempinski Hotels and Hyatt Hotels also replied that they does not have policies that jam, block or prevent guests’ use of personal Wi-Fi hotspots.

InterContinental Hotels Group has no policy that prohibits the use of personal networks on property; however, connecting to the hotel’s free Wi-Fi involves enrolling, for free, in the IHG Rewards Club. Guests or conference attendees can choose to use their own personal Wi-Fi Hotspots.

The majority of Wyndham’s hotels are independently owned and operated, fall within the economy and midscale segments, and provide complimentary Wi-Fi to guests.

A select number may require a nominal fee for access,” Wyndham Hotel Group‘s vice president of marketing and communications Christine Da Silva told Skift.

“In most instances, travelers can avoid paying the fee by enrolling in our free-to-join loyalty program as well as make use of the required complimentary Wi-Fi in each hotel’s interior public spaces.”

Inquiries sent to Starwood were not answered.

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Tags: conventions, fees, marriott, wi-fi

Photo credit: Women work on their laptops in a hotel lobby between conference sessions. smannion / Flickr

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