A little over a month ago the Wi-Fi world was shaken when news broke that the FCC had fined a major hotel chain. As news stories reported, one of the Marriott hotels in Nashville had violated FCC communications act section 333 by “jamming” unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum at their on-site conference facility. It was reported that Marriott’s action was particularly offensive as they restricted use of personal Wi-Fi, such as Mi-Fi and personal hotspots, forcing guests of the conference center to utilize a pay-for service provided by Marriott.
A collective reaction from the WLAN industry resonated within blogs, twitter debates, email lists and written articles. Nearly every reaction was the same – what does this mean for every other Wi-Fi network?
The reports stated that the Marriott was “jamming” the radio frequency (RF) eliminating non-sanctioned Wi-Fi networks from operating successfully. Patrons that brought their own Mi-Fi or personal hotspots were simply out of luck.
The concept of jamming networks, literally jamming one frequency or an entire band, has been illegal in the United States for a very long time. Section 333 of the FCC communication act, of 1934, states the following:
The notion that Marriott was RF jamming makes little sense for those familiar with the scientific concept. How do I know that Marriott wasn’t jamming the RF? Simple – their own, pay-for system would be amongst Wi-Fi networks rendered unusable.
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