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Marriott now says it won't block guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

Marriott now says it won't block guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

The hotel operator will look for other ways to secure its own networks

Hotel operator Marriott International has backed off its request to block some outside Wi-Fi hotspots inside its facilities, saying the company has responded to customer feedback.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission in October levied a US $600,000 fine on Marriott for blocking outside Wi-Fi hotspots at conference facilities. The hotel operator, business partner Ryman Hospitality Properties and trade group the American Hotel and Lodging Association had pursued a proceeding asking the FCC to clarify when hotels can block outside Wi-Fi hotspots in order to protect their internal Wi-Fi services.

But on Wednesday, Marriott said it will not "block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels."

The hotel operator "remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices."

A Marriott spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a message asking about the status of the petition at the FCC.

Marriott was under pressure to change its policies. Activist group Care2 organized a petition calling on the FCC to reject the petition from the hotel group to allow some Wi-Fi blocking. As of Thursday afternoon, the Care2 petition had collected more than 14,000 signatures, including from people from France, Germany, the U.K. and Argentina. It's unclear when the petition was launched.

"As a frequent traveler, it's great to know Marriott now offers green hotels rooms at some locations," the petition organizer wrote, "But it's not so great that they are seeking to block patrons' use of personal Wi-Fi devices."

Earlier Wednesday, before Marriott's change in policy, Inc.com rated Marriott one of the worst hotel chains for delivering Wi-Fi services to its guests.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags Care2regulationNetworkingwirelessMarriott InternationalU.S. Federal Communications CommissiongovernmentWLANs / Wi-Fi

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