The Marriott group has been slammed with a US$600,000 fine for jamming guests' Wi-Fi gear in an effort to force them to pay for the hotel's own Internet service.
Acting on complaints by a guest at one of Marriot's Gaylord resort & conference centre properties, the US Federal Communications Commission found that the hotel was blocking the signals of personal 'pocket hotspots' – which convert 3G or 4G mobile signals into a low-power Wi-Fi network.
According to ABC News, after jamming those personal connections, "Marriott was charging conference organisers and exhibitors between $250 and $1,000, per access point to use the Gaylord's Wi-Fi connection."
"Marriott agreed to the fine and has instructed its hotels not to use the jamming technology in the way it was used at Opryland, according to the FCC."
However, Marriott maintains it is within its right to block these BYO hotspots to make their own hotel network more secure against "rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft."
A spokesman for the company said that only a handful of Marriott's 4,000 hotels worldwide currently screen for hotspot interference.
"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," said FCC enforcement bureau chief Travis LeBlanc.
"This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether."
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT