AirPort Extreme Connectivity Issue

Many of us have been there. You just checked in to a nice hotel and went right to your room. After taking a shower, you pull out your Mac to connect to a personal Wi-Fi hotspot in the hope of getting some work done. But alas, it won’t work. Slowly but surely, a sinking feeling sets in that you’re being forced to use the hotel’s exorbitantly priced Wi-Fi.

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to put an end to the practice and on Tuesday issued a public enforcement advisory warning hotel chains and other commercial establishments that intentionally blocking or interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal.

“In the 21st Century, Wi-Fi represents an essential on-ramp to the Internet,” writes the organization in the opening paragraph before bluntly saying that “Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal.”

Noting it’s seen “a disturbing trend” in which hotels and other commercial establishments block folks from using their own personal Wi-Fi hotspots, they’re now investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.

Last year, for example, the agency’s Enforcement Bureau fined Marriott International, Inc. $600,00 after finding out it had deployed a Wi-Fi deauthentication protocol to “deliberately block consumers” who wanted to use their own Wi-Fi hotspots on the premises.

Instant Hotspot iOS 8 Yosemite

Apple’s iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite operating systems include a new Continuity feature called Instant Hotspot for connecting to an iPhone’s cellular network right from the Mac’s Wi-Fi menu bar icon, without having to type a password or pair devices.

At any rate, no commercial establishment should be allowed to disrupt personal Wi-Fi hotspots on their premises, especially not as a way of forcing people to purchase access to the owner’s Wi-Fi network, concludes the FCC.

“Such action is illegal and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties,” warns the organization citing Federal law that strictly prohibits the use of jamming equipment.

Source: FCC via MacRumors

  • Skoven

    I didn’t even know that you could block wifi that way… shame on those who practice that! But…
    You could just plug you phone in via cable, and get internet that way yes?

    • Byron C Mayes

      *Could* but you shouldn’t have to. Besides, not everyone’s personal hotspot is their phone. Most dedicated hotspot hardware like Verizon’s Jetpack is wifi only. You can’t plug in with a cable or use Bluetooth.

  • Nathan

    I’ve never been to a hotel that does this, but this should be illegal. They’re interfering with service that you pay for.

  • Chris Gaunt

    Until a loop hole where you are signing accepting responsibility for all damages also includes fine print that says you agree to be blocked from all Internet use other than that provided by the hotel.

    • Fanboy 

      You can’t fine print something if it is by law illegal.

    • IlIl

      I think FCC sees this as illegal because of the fact that the hotels are interfering with the signals, not because it violates the guests’ right. So I don’t think any fine prints between the guests and hotels could change the fact that intentionally interfering with signals is illegal.

  • Adrian

    I’ve never experienced that before, but I’d just use the personal hotspot with bluetooth or USB if WiFi didn’t work.

  • Sonny Neu

    makes sense falls under same thing as illegal to block cell phone reception, though at times I wish we could …