Marriott International has reversed course and announced that it will not block guests from using personal Wi-Fi hotspots on its properties.
This decision comes after the hotel chain, a business partner and an industry association asked the FCC for permission to block some Wi-Fi hotspots, citing security and performance issues related to its own Wi-Fi networks. Guests, as well as tech companies such as Google and Microsoft, came out in opposition to hotels blocking Wi-Fi hotspots.
The hospitality chain issued a statement this week on the matter: "Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels. Marriott remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels. 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."
At least one customer was quick to forgive the chain, according to this tweet:
Marriott was fined $600K this past fall for blocking customer Wi-Fi hotspots, presumably to encourage the guests to pay for pricey Internet access from the hotel.
Even though Marriott has said it won't block guests' personal Wi-Fi systems, that doesn't mean it won't pursue clarification from the FCC on what it can do to ensure that guest Wi-Fi systems don't interfere with hotel systems, either from a performance or security standpoint.
Dennis Schaal of travel industry market intelligence firm Skift wrote: "Marriott’s customers resoundingly told the chain not to mess with their personal Wi-Fi devices and Marriott had little choice but to concede this battle. Other chains will likely feel the heat, as well. Still the war isn’t over and the FCC will ultimately have much to say about where all of this is headed."