Federal regulators in the US have fined Hilton hotels $25,000 for obstructing an investigation into allegations that one of its hotels in California blocked guests’ personal hotspots unless they paid the hotel $500.
The Federal Communications Commission has warned the hotel chain, which includes Hilton, Conrad, Double Tree, Embassy Suites and Waldorf Astoria hotels, that it could face significantly higher fines for any continued obstruction or delay (the hotel had ignored the FCC’s request for information about its wi-fi policy for a year. It is illegal to block wi-fi under America’s Communication Act).
A Hilton spokesperson denied that the hotel had blocked wi-fi to collect a fee but couldn’t say if it had done it for any other reason. Charging for wi-fi has become the most prevalent additional or upcharge in hotels in recent years, particularly business class ones, as the use of mobile technology has reduced the ability to charge for phone calls and entertainment services. (They offer it free in low-cost hotels as an incentive to stay so it can be done).
Last year the FCC fined Marriott hotels $600,000 for wi-fi blocking. (The hotel protested that conference attendees could launch a cyber-attack on its network!)
They also made an IT services provider pay a $708,000 charge for blocking wi-fi at a convention centre which had been charging over $1,000 at each event for wi-fi services.
I wish we would take similar action in the UK. I’m sick of hotels here charging for wi-fi when I can go to little Lithuania and enjoy free wi-fi in their hotels in the capital.