In October 2014 World-wide hotel giant Marriott International agreed to pay a $600,000 fine for jamming conference attendees' own Wi-Fi networks at its massive Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Centre in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wi-Fi is an essential tool for people who attend conferences and exhibitions, and critical for those exhibiting web-based products. But getting decent connectivity at such events is a frequent source of frustration. To make matters worse, any free Wi-Fi is far too slow, and the paid Wi-Fi is far too expensive – often hundreds of pounds per day for exhibitors.
To get round this costly problem many people and businesses set up their own personal Wi-Fi hotspots using a dongle costing around £50 per month or less. You don’t get great performance but you do avoid being charged up to £1,000 or more for a few days Wi-Fi by the venue.
The hotel chain used a perfectly legal Wi-Fi jamming device, but in an unfair way. Marriott were keen to highlight some potential security risks as the reason it blocked the personal hotspots. But the ruling makes it clear that charging customers between $250 and $1,000 per access point was an unfair way of dealing with the issue.
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) said "It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel's own Wi-Fi network"
Social Wi-Fi is the obvious alternative for any hotel, convention centre or exhibition hall wanting to provide high bandwidth Wi-Fi. When you provide Wi-Fi with a social log on your customers think you are great for providing a free service that is easy to use. They are then happy to raise your social profile with likes and follows in return for such great service.
What’s more, the venue or show organisers gain immensely valuable, segmented consumer data that can be used to great effect when marketing future events and shows.
Source – ABC News, USA
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