Should a hotel be able to block a person from using their own Internet? Obviously, hotels would want to do that to ensure that guests have to use the hotels’ Internet. However, should they be able to? Google and Microsoft seem to think not.
There is a battle going on between travellers using their own hot spots and hotels. This started after Marriott settled a complaint that they blocked a guest’s personal Wi-Fi. Now, Microsoft, Google and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association are standing up to a hotel petition that is asking the Federal Communications Commission to allow them to block all guests’ hot spots when they are on hotel premises.
Microsoft and Google say that this petition is not fair to travellers. They also believe that this petition is an attempt by hotel groups to make guests pay for Wi-Fi and to take control of unlicensed wireless frequencies. These are airwaves that everyone has equal right to use.
The hotels that are part of this petition are pretty much using the same arguments that Marriott used when they attempted to block people’s Wi-Fi when they were on hotel grounds. Hotel groups are claiming that they need to have the right to block Wi-Fi so they can offer reliable and secure connections for all of their guests. They also point out that they are using FCC-approved gear designed to fight intruders and interference.
Despite this big battle between hotel groups and Google and Microsoft, the FCC has yet to weigh in. That being said, experts say that hotel groups will have an uphill battle to fight if they want to win the right to block Wi-Fi. This is especially true since Marriott was unable to convince anyone that it had the right to do so.
Officials who weighed in on the Marriott case said that they didn’t believe Marriott’s security claims held any kind of impact on the argument. These officials believe that Marriott was simply trying to charge customers to use its Internet. This was unfair when guests already had their own Internet, which they were paying for. So unless officials have a change of heart, it doesn’t look like hotels are going to get their way.