With the use of Wi-Fi hotspots on the rise, some commercial establishments have blocked wireless consumers from using their personal devices to access the Internet. A new enforcement advisory from the Federal Communications Commission condemns the practice, and has threatened monetary penalties for violators. This action by the FCC has implications for health care facilities.
In its enforcement advisory, the FCC said “no hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hotspots on such premises.” Asked if the prohibition extends to health care facilities, a spokesman for the commission said it did.
“Yes. It applies to everyone, including prisons, schools and other institutions,” Neil Grace, senior communications advisor at the FCC, wrote in an email to AAMI.
The genesis of this advisory stems from a complaint against Marriott International, which admitted to deploying a deauthentication protocol at its Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., to block consumers looking to connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi hotspots. It settled the investigation by paying a civil fine of $600,000 last fall.
“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc in a prepared statement.
Since the Marriott settlement, the FCC received additional complaints about Wi-Fi blocking and is investigating vigorously.
AAMI recently released a press release on this issue with more information.
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