Communications service contractor M.C. Dean is facing fines for blocking Wi-Fi hotspots inside the Baltimore Convention Center where it provides service. According to the Consumerist, the company inhibited hotspots within the center and charged as much as $1,095 for Internet access.
“Consumers are tired of being taken advantage of by hotels and convention centers that block their personal Wi-Fi connections,” Travis LeBlanc, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau, said in a statement.
The contractor admits that it blocked hotspots within the center, but defended its actions by saying that people could use free Wi-Fi in certain parts of the building, and that the blockage was not intended to force people to use its services. The FCC was not convinced, proposing fines of as much as $718,000 in a Tuesday notice.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings is also under the FCC’s scrutiny for potentially blocking Wi-Fi. The FCC this week proposed a $25,000 fine for the hotel chain for failing to cooperate with its investigation into the matter. The investigation began after a 2014 complaint to the FCC reported that a California-based Hilton jammed Wi-Fi hotspots and forced customers to pay $500 to access Wi-Fi.
In response to the fine, a Hilton spokesperson told CNN Money that the company has “repeatedly communicated” with its hotels that blocking Wi-Fi is not permitted. “Throughout this inquiry, we have cooperated with the FCC, providing extensive background and details in a timely and efficient manner,” the spokesperson said.