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FCC fines company $750,000 for blocking hotspots

Andrew Tarantola, @terrortola
August 18, 2015
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The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it is fining Smart City LLC $750,000 for blocking Wi-Fi hotspots. The company provides hotels and convention centers in Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Orlando, and Phoenix with its own brand of wireless connectivity. Smart City typically charges users $80 for access. The FCC began investigating the company June of last year following complaints that it had been actively blocking convention-goers from using their personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Today's settlement also includes assurances from the company that it will not block hotspots in the future.

[Image Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Update: SmartCity LLC has provided a statement regarding today's decision:

Our goal has always been to provide world-class services to our customers, and our company takes regulatory compliance extremely seriously. We are not gatekeepers to the Internet. As recommended by the Department of Commerce and Department of Defense, we have occasionally used technologies made available by major equipment manufacturers to prevent wireless devices from significantly interfering with and disrupting the operations of neighboring exhibitors on our convention floors. This activity resulted in significantly less than one percent (1%) of all devices being deauthenticated and these same technologies are widely used by major convention centers across the globe as well as many federal agencies.

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. But when we were contacted by the FCC in October 2014, we ceased using the technology in question.

While we have strong legal arguments, we've determined that mounting a vigorous defense would ultimately prove too costly and too great a distraction for our leadership team. As a result, we've chosen to work cooperatively with the FCC, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter. We are eager to return our energies to providing leadership to our industry and delivering world-class services to our clients.



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