Marriott has given the US government $600,000 to end an investigation into its practice of blocking the personal wifi of guests.
The hotel chain will pay the "civil penalty" to the Federal Communications Commission after an 18-month probe into a guest complaint about its Gaylord Opryland property in the US city of Nashville.
The guest claimed the hotel was "jamming mobile hotspots so that you can't use them in the convention space."
FCC Enforcement Bureau agents then found that the employees at the property were using a wifi monitoring system to "contain or de-authenticate packets to the targeted access points", essentially stopping any guest from accessing their own personal hotspots to gain access to the web.
Lo and behold, guests at the conference (exhibitors and attendees) who were unable to log in to their own systems were still allowed to buy a payment plan for the hotel's in-house system to anywhere in the region of $250 to $1,000 per device.
The FCC says the chain must stop the "unlawful" practice of using wifi-blocking technology at the property.
Marriott must also file a report to the FCC every three months for the next few years, detailing wifi usage and access point features for every property it runs or owns in the US.
Despite paying the $600,000, Marriott still claims the practice is "lawful" but will not fight the regulator.
The chain says it has a "strong interest in ensuring our guests use our wifi service", because it protects users from "rogue wireless hotspots" and other security-related issues.
It claims the practice is commonplace in other industries such as healthcare and academia.
A statement adds:
"We will continue to encourage the FCC to pursue a rulemaking in order to eliminate the ongoing confusion resulting from today's action and to assess the merits of its underlying policy."
NB:Hotel wifi image via Shutterstock.