Hilton Hotel Chain Fined by FCC over Guest Wi-Fi Jamming

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Hilton Worldwide Holdings, the umbrella company for Hilton Hotels, has been ordered to pay a $25,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission.

The fine comes after Hilton has been accused of obstructing a probe into whether the company has been blocking guest Wi-Fi hotspots in order to push customers into buying the hotels own Wi-Fi package.

The probe was launched by the FCC after several complaints by guests were made against the Hilton hotel in Anaheim, California. In addition to the fine, the FCC has threatened Hilton with “increased penalties” should they continue to refuse to cooperate.

The original complaint is reported to have been made in August 2014, prompting the FCC to send a letter of inquiry in November 2014.  After nearly a year, neither Hilton Worldwide nor the specific hotel have replied, prompting the commission’s actions.

Hilton is not the first major hotel brand to be accused of jamming guest Wi-Fi hotspots. In October last year, Marriott hotels were fined $600,000 by the FCC for jamming hotspots and then charging up to $1,000 to use the hotel’s own internet package. While Marriott agreed to the fine, the company defended their actions, stating that hotspot jamming was enforced in order to protect their own network from “rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft.”

In a warning released to hotels by the FCC in January, the commission declared hotspot jamming as unacceptable, regardless of whether you are an individual or a company, and highlighted the fact that any entity who blocks Wi-Fi hotspots are also violating Section 333 of the Communications Act.

Despite the official warning, the Marriott case, and multiple other cases including Smart City Holdings and M.C. Dean, who have been ordered to pay $1,468,000 in fines across both companies for hotspot jamming at convention centres, Hilton does not seem particularly concerned and has yet to publicly comment on the situation.

Follow Charlie Nash on Twitter @MrNashington.