Skift Take

Marriott guests didn't take the chain's Wi-Fi-blocking practice sitting down and fought back, with Marriott International ultimately getting fined $600,000. What makes Hilton Worldwide think it can evade the same fate?

The Federal Communications Commission announced today that it’s proposing to fine Hilton Worldwide Holdings $25,000 for not providing evidence related to a Wi-Fi blocking investigation involving the hotel.

In today’s order, the FCC directs Hilton to immediately provide essential information and documents about its Wi-Fi management practices and warns the company that it may face a significantly higher fine for any continued obstruction or delay. The FCC originally requested information from Hilton in November 2014 in response to a guest complaint alleging that the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, California, which is located next to the Anaheim Convention Center, blocked visitors’ Wi-Fi hot spots unless those consumers paid a $500 fee to access Hilton’s Wi-Fi.

Last November the FCC issued Hilton a letter of inquiry seeking information concerning basic company information, relevant corporate policies, and specifics regarding Wi-Fi management practices at Hilton-brand properties in the U.S. After nearly one year, Hilton hasn’t provided the requested information for the vast majority of its properties and the FCC has also received Wi-Fi blocking complaints at other Hilton properties, the FCC said in a statement.

This is the FCC’s latest major enforcement action regarding Wi-Fi blocking. In October 2014 the FCC fined Marriott International, Inc. and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. $600,000 for similar Wi-Fi blocking activities at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Marriott and much of the U.S. hotel industry several months later petitioned the FCC to get clarification on whether it was permissible to block attendees bring-your-own Wi-Fi capabilities at their properties but withdrew the petition in early 2015 in the face of customer opposition and vociferous opposition from the FCC. In August, it fined Smart City Holdings $750,000 for Wi-Fi blocking at convention venues it provides Wi-Fi to. The FCC also recently proposed to fine M.C. Dean $718,000 for apparent Wi-Fi blocking at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Tags: fcc, hilton, wifi

Photo credit: Guests wait outside at the Hilton, New York's largest Hotel. Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

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