Marriott on FCC Petition: We 'Encourage' Open Internet Access

Marriott International

As companies like Microsoft and Google speak out against it, Marriott International has released a new statement defending and clarifying its petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Filed jointly in August with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), which submitted it on behalf of the entire hospitality industry, the petition asks the FCC to clarify its rules governing the use of Wi-Fi monitoring and management technologies in response to an FCC investigation of Marriott, which was accused of unlawfully using a Wi-Fi monitoring system to disable the personal networks of meeting attendees at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville.

In October, the FCC ruled against Marriott on grounds that the hotelier was attempting to block the use of Wi-Fi hotspots so it could generate revenue from fees charged to access its own Internet service. However, Marriott and AH&LA assert that the technology in question is legitimate and should be allowed at hotels. Not so hotels can limit Internet access, but rather so they can protect guests from security threats.

"We understand there have been concerns regarding our position on the FCC petition filing, perhaps due to a lack of clarity about the issue. To set the record straight it has never been nor will it ever be Marriott's policy to limit our guests' ability to access the Internet by all available means, including through the use of personal Mi-Fi and/or Wi-Fi devices. As a matter of fact, we invite and encourage our guests to use these Internet connectivity devices in our hotels. To be clear, this matter does not involve in any way Wi-Fi access in hotel guestrooms or lobby spaces," Marriott explained in its latest statement, published yesterday.

"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 to meeting or conference attendees or cause interference to the conference guest wireless network.

"In light of the increased use of wireless technology to launch cyber-attacks and purposefully disrupt hotel networks, Marriott along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association on behalf of the entire hotel industry is seeking clarity from the FCC regarding what lawful measures a network operator can take to prevent such attacks from occurring. We feel this is extremely important as we are increasingly being asked what measures we take to protect our conference and meeting guests and the conference groups that are using Wi-Fi technology in our hotels."

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