FCC: Marriott used Wi-Fi jammers

FCC: Marriott used Wi-Fi jammers. to block customers’ personal hotspots -Kif Leswing via Gigaom.com

Click here to learn how a “Jammer” works.

Discussion and Insights:

Recently, Marriott was found to be noncompliant with FCC regulations that ban the use of any “Jammer”—to include cell, radio, Wi-Fi and others—by any individual or entity that is not an approved federal agent. The result? A $600,000 fine and removal of the jamming equipment from any Marriott property currently participating in the illegal activity.

In a regular Wi-Fi network, a user connects to the Internet by connecting to the ISP, which could be a wired modem and separate Wi-Fi router or a combined wireless modem/router that will connect the computer to the ISP server and allow the user to launch their browser where they can search the web or access a particular URL.

In Marriott’s case, the company utilized a Jammer to prevent users from accessing their chosen ISP—their personal Wi-Fi networks, typically provided via cell phone companies. The jammer functioned by interrupting Wi-Fi signals that operated on a particular frequency. By placing their own Wi-Fi on a different frequency, Marriott’s service was the only signal capable of connecting a user to an ISP service and the Internet and was therefore offered at a premium price.

The management decision to utilize this technology was short sighted and over all a very poor decision. The decision was made based on the greed of money. By jamming competitors’ signals, Marriott was attempting to force patrons into paying premium prices for Wi-Fi service during their stay, including large business accounts (meetings and events). What Marriott either failed to research or decided to ignore was the legality of such a decision.

According to the FCC, Jammers of all types are strictly illegal except by approved Federal Entities and Agents. The Marriott management team made their own bed by making a poorly evaluated decision that has since come back to bite them in the rear.

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