According to The New York Times, it seems that now Marriott International and The American Hotel and Lodging Association are asking the F.C.C. to allow them to essentially disable customers’ WiFi devices, making it impossible for them to use their cellular internet services (via their smartphones or “hotspots”) to provide WiFi connections for laptops or tables. Why? They offer some “red herring” defense suggesting that nefarious persons set up “fake” WiFi” networks to gain access to guests computers and tablets. Sure, this can and does happen. It happens lots of places – restaurants, airports, libraries, etc. But the answer is not to disable customers’ WiFi systems. The answer is to keep the customer informed of these potentials and to help law enforcement apprehend the criminals. But lets be real here. The true impact of such a “hotel WiFi disabling program” would be to force guests to use the hotel’s WiFi service (read “buy” service from the hotel). But first hotels need to get the blessing of the F.C.C. since it is currently illegal for anyone to interfere with wireless communications. (Let’s hope the F.C.C. doesn’t fall prey to this scheme.)
According to the New York Times,” Marriott and the hotel association say that if the commission rules against them, some hotels might prohibit guests from checking in with Wi-Fi devices or restrict such equipment from some parts of their properties.”
This is an interesting attempt at threat it seems to me. First of all, what a hotel allows a customer to check in with is of no concern to the F.C.C. Customer baggage is hotel policy. And just what do you think would happen if hotels decided to enact a policy of not allowing guests to check in with their WiFi devices? Can you imagine the uproar? I would hope that guests would again “vote with their feet” and go to the hotel down the street – the one with a reasonable WiFi policy. Talk about an empty threat!
Bottom line – the hotel WiFi situation is not improving as quickly as I had hoped. Many hotels continue to charge ridiculous fees for WiFi as they press behind the scenes for authorization to do so in ever more insidious ways. So at least for now, before making hotel reservations, be sure you check the WiFi policy and fees for your hotels. If their policies and fees seem unreasonable – Let Them Know!
(For the full New York Times article click – NYTimes)
Hotel WiFi ……………. It’s Still An Adventure!
Dr.B, The PhotoTrekker