November 10, 2014

Understanding the FCC vs. Marriott Case

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:

Comm_Act

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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About The Contributor:
Mike LeibovitzDirector of Mobility Solutions

Mike Leibovitz has over 15 years of Sales Engineering, Product Management and Marketing expertise in the Communications Industry. Since 2008 Mike has been instrumental in bringing high density Wi-Fi solutions to stadiums, healthcare, education and commercial markets for Extreme Networks. Mike’s current role, Director of Mobility and Applications at Extreme is focused on evangelizing mobile and software solutions that drive positive and consistent user experiences. If you would like to read more about his views on mobility, visit his blog http://www.ontheflywifi.net/ Follow me on twitter @MikeLeibovitz.

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