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FCC fines company for blocking wi-fi at convention centers

Smart City Holdings, a company that provides wi-fi services at convention and meeting centers, agreed to pay a fine of $750,000 to settle Federal Communications Commission charges that it blocked personal wi-fi hotspots.

The FCC’s investigation, based on a complaint it received last year, found that when visitors or exhibitors declined to pay Smart City’s $80/day fee, the company automatically blocked users from accessing the Internet using their own personal plans at several convention centers serving Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Orlando; and Phoenix.

In addition to paying the fine, Smart City agreed to cease wi-fi blocking.

The enforcement against Smart City is the FCC’s second wi-fi blocking case. Last year, the FCC fined Marriott Hotel Services $600,000 for blocking wi-fi at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

“All companies who seek to use technologies that block FCC-approved Wi-Fi connections are on notice that such practices are patently unlawful,” warned Travis LeBlanc, the FCC’s enforcement bureau chief.