FCC to Fine Hilton in Latest Wi-Fi Blocking Investigation

The Federal Communications Commission intends to fine Hilton Worldwide for what it says is a failure to comply with the bureau's latest Wi-Fi blocking investigation. According to the FCC, the lodging giant has failed to produce information and documents that pertain to consumer complaints. The bureau proposed a $25,000 fine in an order released Monday, warning that Hilton could face a much larger fine if it does not immediately provide the information and documents requested.  

The case dates back to an August 2014 complaint that accused the Hilton Anaheim of blocking visitor's Wi-Fi hot spots unless the visitor paid a $500 fee to access the property's Wi-Fi. The FCC received complaints about other Hilton properties as well, and in November 2014 issued a letter to Hilton requesting "basic company information, relevant corporate policies and specifics regarding Wi-Fi management practices at Hilton-brand properties in the United States," a request with which Hilton has yet to comply, according to the FCC.

In October 2014, the FCC fined Marriott $600,000 for allegedly blocking Wi-Fi hot spots at the Gaylord Opryland. But this case, according to Hilton, has no basis.

"We strongly disagree with the decision by the FCC Enforcement Bureau," said a Hilton Worldwide spokesperson in a statement. "Hilton supports open access to private Wi-Fi networks for our customers through their personal devices, while at the same time protecting their personal information. We have a policy in place that states our commitment to secure open access and prohibits hotels from blocking Wi-Fi, and it is repeatedly communicated to all properties. Throughout this inquiry, we have cooperated with the FCC, providing extensive background and details in a timely and efficient manner. We believe that the FCC has no basis for vastly expanding the initial inquiry based on a single complaint at a single Hilton hotel."

See M&C's related feature on this topic, "Marriott's Wi-Fi Mix-Up."