fcc-signHotels generally charge a lot to use their WiFi which for the most part tends to be incredibly slow to begin with, which is why sometimes some hotel guests prefer to tether their phones to their computers since this is usually cheaper and faster. After all who wants to pay $50 a day to use WiFi when you’re probably going to be out most of the time anyway, right?

As it turns out some hotels aren’t too pleased about their guests tethering their phones and creating their own WiFi hotspots, and recently the FCC has slapped a company called Smart City with a fine of $750,000 for allegedly blocking the WiFi hotspots of users. For those unfamiliar with Smart City, they are a telco that provides WiFi services to hotels and convention centers.

Their rates are at $80 a day so you can understand why many guests would prefer to tether their phones instead of shelling out the money. That being said, Smart City claims that their actions were not done maliciously but rather as standard business practice. “We have always acted in good faith, and we had no prior notice that the FCC considered the use of this standardized, ‘available-out-of-the-box’ technology to be a violation of its rules,” according to the company’s President Mark Haley (see full statement below).

Smart City is not alone in this as last October, Marriott Hotel was hit with a fine of $600,000 for also blocking the WiFi hotspots of its guests. Hopefully with these heavy fines, companies will think twice before deciding to block hotspots in the future.

“Our goal has always been to provide world-class services to our customers, and our company takes regulatory compliance extremely seriously. We are not gatekeepers to the Internet. As recommended by the Department of Commerce and Department of Defense, we have occasionally used technologies made available by major equipment manufacturers to prevent wireless devices from significantly interfering with and disrupting the operations of neighboring exhibitors on our convention floors. This activity resulted in significantly less than one percent (1%) of all devices being deauthenticated and these same technologies are widely used by major convention centers across the globe as well as many federal agencies.

“We have always acted in good faith, and we had no prior notice that the FCC considered the use of this standardized, ‘available-out-of-the-box’ technology to be a violation of its rules. But when we were contacted by the FCC in October 2014, we ceased using the technology in question.

“While we have strong legal arguments, we’ve determined that mounting a vigorous defense would ultimately prove too costly and too great a distraction for our leadership team. As a result, we’ve chosen to work cooperatively with the FCC, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter. We are eager to return our energies to providing leadership to our industry and delivering world-class services to our clients.”

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