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REUTERS - Marriott International Inc (MAR.O) will pay a fine of $600,000 to resolve a Federal Communications Commission probe into the blocking of guests' wi-fi networks at its Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
The investigation revealed that Marriott employees had disabled wi-fi networks established by consumers in the conference facilities, "while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses, and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott's Wi-Fi network," the FCC said in a statement. (bit.ly/1ra6E0u)
The interference and disabling of wi-fi networks was in violation of Sec.333 of the Communications Act, the FCC said.
The probe began after the FCC received a complaint from an individual in March 2013 alleging that the Gaylord Opryland was jamming mobile hotspots in the hotel.
"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," Travis LeBlanc, enforcement bureau chief, said in the statement.
The FCC ruling said Marriott has to stop the unlawful use of wi-fi blocking technology and file compliance and usage reports with the bureau every three months for three years.
Marriot said it believed that the Gaylord Opryland's actions were lawful and expected the FCC to make rules to end the confusion over this issue.
"Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our wi-fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft," the company said. [ID:nPnYMKmL]
Marriott shares closed up 2 percent at $68.10 on the Nasdaq on Friday.
Reporting by Rohit T. K. in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian