FCC fines company $750K over Wi-Fi blocking claims

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday announced a $750,000 settlement with Smart City Holdings over allegations that the Internet provider blocked access to personal Wi-Fi hotspots.

An investigation found that Smart City—which services U.S. convention centers and hotels in multiple states—barred some consumers from connecting with personal data plans if they did not pay an $80 per day access fee, the FCC said.

"It is unacceptable for any company to charge consumers exorbitant fees to access the Internet while at the same time blocking them from using their own personal Wi-Fi hotspots to access the Internet," said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC's enforcement division, in a statement.

The seal of the Federal Communications Commission at FCC headquarters in Washington.
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Smart City used technology to prevent outside wireless hardware from "significantly disrupting" other customers, which made less than 1 percent of devices lose Internet access, said company President Mark Haley in a statement. Smart City stopped using the method once the FCC contacted the company in October.

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"We have always acted in good faith, and we had no prior notice that the FCC considered the use of this standardized, 'available-out-of-the-box' technology to be a violation of its rules," he said.

The fine follows a similar FCC action against Marriott International and Marriott Hotel Services last year.