Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Government The Internet Businesses Crime Privacy Security United States Verizon Wireless Networking News Technology

Wi-Fi Hotspot Blocking Persists Despite FCC Crackdown (networkworld.com) 85

An anonymous reader writes: An examination of consumer complaints to the FCC over the past year and a half shows that the practice of Wi-Fi hotspot device blocking continues even though the agency has slapped organizations such as Marriott and Hilton more than $2 million in total for doing this. Venues argue they need to block hotspots for security reasons, but the FCC and consumers say the organizations are doing this to force people to pay for pricey Internet access.
"Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center," FCC Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc said in a statement. "It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel's own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether." Consumers have filed many complaints about Wi-Fi hotspot blocking to the FCC.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wi-Fi Hotspot Blocking Persists Despite FCC Crackdown

Comments Filter:
  • Not free? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Saturday March 12, 2016 @03:22PM (#51685389)

    In recent years, I have rarely stayed at a first class hotel that did not have free guest w-fi. People expect it and will bail for the local coffee shop if it's not free in the hotel.

    My guess is a lot of the offenders are in tourist traps where everything costs a lot.

    • Re:Not free? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @03:37PM (#51685459)

      In recent years, I have rarely stayed at a first class hotel that did not have free guest w-fi. People expect it and will bail for the local coffee shop if it's not free in the hotel.

      My guess is a lot of the offenders are in tourist traps where everything costs a lot.

      I think you intended to say that all of the first class hotels you stayed at had free guest wifi, but your double negative said just the opposite. However, my experience, at least in the US is just the opposite. Big name, first class hotels charge for wifi. It is the middle tier hotels that give it away as part of the room cost. Same thing with parking and other amenities.

      • I stay a lot at Sheraton and Westin properties because I have a points account... But you could be right.

        • Sheraton gives you free WiFi at most of their hotels if you have a membership in their frequent traveler program. Otherwise it's $10 per night. Westin has the same parent company so their policy is likely to be similar. My only recent Westin stay was at a convention that negotiated free WiFi for all guests, so I don't know.
      • To be accurate, the GP's statement could be satisfied if he never stayed at a first-class hotel.
        • To be accurate, the GP's statement could be satisfied if he never stayed at a first-class hotel.

          Actually, that would not be accurate. He must have stayed in at least one first-class hotel for him to be able to say that he has stayed in one that didn't have free Wi-Fi. If you slightly reword the original phrase "I have rarely stayed at a first class hotel that did not have free guest Wi-Fi" as "I have stayed at a first-class hotel that did not have free guest Wi-Fi, but only on rare occasions".

          It is possible to say that he might never have stayed at a first-class hotel that did have free Wi-Fi, because

      • In recent years, I have rarely stayed at a first class hotel that did not have free guest w-fi.

        I think you intended to say that all of the first class hotels you stayed at had free guest wifi, but your double negative said just the opposite.

        That is completely wrong. If you rarely stay at a hotel that does not have free Wi-Fi then it means that you more commonly stay at hotels that do have free Wi-Fi. It certainly does not mean, as you claim, the opposite of what was intended. Nor can you infer that the intention was that all the hotels had free Wi-Fi, as the word rarely indicates that some hotels did not have that feature. If the word used had been never then you could say that all hotels did have it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In 100% of the crappy low end hotels that Ive stayed in during the last eight years, 100% of them have provided free wifi provided that you ask for the pass code at the front desk. This goes for KOA also.

    • "My guess is a lot of the offenders are in tourist traps where everything costs a lot."

      Two options:
      1) The USA way: It's a free market, ain't it? Let the owners of the real state do whatever they want within their premises and let the market sort them out.
      2) The EU way: let's define a fair leveled playground and punish those that cheat.

      You now choose your poison.

    • It's different in hotel conference facilities. Charging your organization $50,000 and up just to turn on the WiFi while your conference is in session are routine. Conferees find it pays to use their own cellular data plans to run a personal hotspot that several other conferees can share. The hotels being discussed here will run jammers to prevent this from happening.

      • This. The hotel charges for internet access in conference areas are insanely high. Professional conventions just pay it and build it into their fee structure, but it means that leisure conventions that have to keep their prices down are typically unable to pay and have to do without internet access. That causes problems for exhibitors who want to use the internet to present things.
    • I borderline live in hotels at the moment. Spent the past year hotel hopping for work from one top tier place to another. Now I've settled in an area, in Europe, we're taking the opportunity to travel as much as possible jumping from bottom tier, hotel to bottom tier hotel.

      Nearly all hotels have had a free service.
      Some of those free services had to provide personal information to 3rd parties, such as logging in to Facebook.
      Nearly all hotels have had a paid service which was much MUCH faster and with less re

    • In recent years, I have rarely stayed at a first class hotel that did not have free guest w-fi. People expect it and will bail for the local coffee shop if it's not free in the hotel.

      My guess is a lot of the offenders are in tourist traps where everything costs a lot.

      Naah. Its a Trump Hotel. Nothing is free.

  • by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @03:23PM (#51685391)

    First offense, $5 million. Second, $50 million and jailtime for those responsible for the policy. Third offense, $500 million, and so on.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Too low, raise it to a billion per suppression device.

    • by Bob_Who ( 926234 )

      First offense, $5 million. Second, $50 million and jailtime for those responsible for the policy. Third offense, $500 million, and so on.

      Yeah, all the above, what you said.

      Lets be sure that individuals are named and charged with misdemeanors - no more corporate anonymity - expose the thugs.

      Then force them to provide free internet for a whole year to everyone, a fine that pays the customer instead of authorities.

      They still have the "honor bar" to make up for any shortfalls..

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Then force them to provide free internet for a whole year to everyone, a fine that pays the customer instead of authorities.

        Doesn't work. A lot of hotels already provide "free wifi" but also make money off it. What they do is the WiFi is definitely free - you don't have to pay for it. But it's like 1Mbps. You can then pay $10/night if you want to upgrade to "high speed" 10Mbps or so.

        A lot of hotels do this. I wouldn't be surprised if those hotels named also did the same, trying to get people to pay for "pre

    • First offense, $5 million. Second, $50 million and jailtime for those responsible for the policy. Third offense, $500 million, and so on.

      Nah. If you're a Slashdotter and run into this...

      First offense, take out the hotel's wifi.

    • Nah, that is too punishing for smaller venues who might not be aware of the regulations. Better to use day's wages - which for companies should be defined through their annual revenues divided by 365. That way we don't hand out fines that immediately send a small venue into liquidation or go unnoticed by a big venue.

      As for jail time: Seriously? For phone/wifi jamming? I mean, sending people to jail for trivialities is all the rage in America these days but I think that reserving that measure for more harm
      • Sending people to jail is part of the populist desire to make white collar criminals pay with time in prison. Typically poor criminals spend time behind bars, starting even before they are tried because they can't afford bail, and continuing after the trial because they can't afford good lawyers who can get them out of prison time. Meanwhile, white collar criminals get off with fines at worst (and often manage to buy their way out of the charges completely), and those are typically paid by their companies s
        • I can see the resoning behind that and I agree that those who cause damage to the most people tend to get off with the slightest punishment, which needs to change. But again, I'd reserve prison sentences for those who actually cause significant harm, such as by pushing people beneath the poverty line or making them homeless. Hotels who block wifi/mobile data access inconvenience their guests and cost the companies who use them for conferences a bit of money - bad but not that bad.

          I mean, seriously - look
  • Make offending organizations pay $25+ million. Make them hurt. Better yet, jail some of the executive staff. Organizations are people and the board and C level suite are the head. Works for me!
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      You missed three zeroes, start with a billion for one device, then an exponential increase for each device found.

      • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

        Did you work for the RIAA?
        Reminds me of "oh my god, a torrent, let's sue for 1 billion dollars"

  • So If they block all wifi any force you to use a ethernet connection in you room for an extra $25 that's ok then?

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      I think it's the "blocking wifi" part that's getting the FCC's attention, not so much which expensive alternative is being pimped. If you're jamming frequencies or using some type of active denial to kick everyone off APs in the area, they aren't going to be happy with you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2016 @03:34PM (#51685443)

    But wi-fi "blocking" gets a free pass? Have the FCC throw the book at them.

    • But wi-fi "blocking" gets a free pass?

      How is getting a $2 million fine a "free pass"? That guy who got arrested for using a phone jammer had already been caught once before doing the same thing and yet continued the illegal activity, just the same as the hotels. There is no double standard going on (yet).

    • I was going to post the same thing. With the added comment that IIRCC most private hotspots are actually just cell phones with a "data only" type 3g connection and an standard 802.11x AP.

      The only way I can see those getting jammed is either something is jamming every other wi-fi channel or they jam the 3G connection.

      In both cases they are willfully interfering with a commercial radio device. I seem to recall there are laws about jamming ANY commercial radio signal.

      Could someone with more knowledge about t

  • Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday March 12, 2016 @03:36PM (#51685451)

    Venues argue they need to block hotspots for security reasons

    Due to security reasons we are preventing people from running their own closed network between their devices and their telecom companies and instead forcing them all into our own network joined up with hundreds of other strangers ....

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      Hundreds of other strangers and the lights in their hotel rooms [dreamwidth.org]!

  • Experiments have found that unsecured hotspots in airports will be connected to by hundreds of strangers, running Firesheep etc. they can be easily MITMed. I'm sure the same is true in hotels, people don't bother to find out what the hotel's Wifi ID is. Blocking other hotspots prevents people from connecting to any attempts to MITM them.

    • Blocking traffic to other spots just means the hotel can MiTM your traffic. I've found most hotels do MiTM traffic sent on their network.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am a startup that sets up electronic visual attractions at large venues at facilities like these. For configuration purposes, the units contain APs which are supposed to be connected to via the organizer's phone in order to allow them to control the attractions.

    Twice I ran into cases where I was simply unable to connect to any of the units and I had no idea why. Eventually to debug this pulled up wireshark and found someone was performing a de-authentication attack! This was at two different events, but a

  • Doctor evil doesn't care about 'Two Million'. Seriously, why not try to fine them a amount that will make it unprofitable.

    • let's see, for Mariot gross profit for 2015 totaled 2.1 BILLION dollars

      Hilton gross profit was 7.1 BILLION dollars.

      Guess you're right, $2M for both is a flea bite

  • Up the ante a bit, and have someone with a ham radio license file a complaint, not about WiFi blocking but about an unlicensed operator's (the hotel) interference with a licensed operator's transmissions. The rules about that, IIRC, apply even on the unlicensed bands and give the FCC well-established grounds to shut down the hotel's WiFi completely until it modifies the equipment to eliminate the interference.

  • 1 to certify your location as requiring CELL PHONE JAMMERS you need to file with the FCC/FTC actual valid proof of this requirement (in detail and each floor /1000 foot area must have a separate listed reason). there will be a $20K per area fee and this must be filed yearly (twiddle the form each year to prevent simple copy/paste).

    or

    2 provide free uncapped wifi to all clients/guests (give them the credentials when they check in)

    oh and if you get "caught" then your CXO rack has to pay out of pocket to refund

If you think the system is working, ask someone who's waiting for a prompt.

Working...