How many of you negotiate Wi-Fi for your meetings and events? My guess would be about 99.95% of you currently do this as part of your logistics planning for your events. Many of you are aware of and have been following what’s been happening with the debate between hotels, venues and consumers over Wi-Fi availability. Just recently, the FCC sent out an advisory with some pretty tough and implicit language around the ability to block Wi-Fi access.
In the advisory, titled “Warning: Wi-Fi Blocking is Prohibited,” it states that individuals or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots “are subject to enforcement action,” i.e., substantial fines. The advisory also states that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau “has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hotspots on the commercial establishment’s premises. As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.”
Wow! That’s a pretty clear indicator of where the FCC is going in their efforts to maintain fair competition and access to the internet.
In addition to this, the FCC said that “Federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type of jamming equipment, including devices that interfere with Wi-Fi, cellular, or public safety communications. Detailed information about the prohibition against jamming is available on the Commission’s website.”
This is also going to have an impact on airports and other public areas where Wi-Fi suppliers have contracts to provide access for free or for a price. I imagine this will have a negative revenue impact to all public areas. If you believe that access to your personal Wi-Fi hotspot has been blocked, you can file a complaint at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints or by calling (888) CALL-FCC.
Take a look at a great article on this topic from MeetingsNet.
Imagine the impact this will have on event planners and companies who want to set up their own Wi-Fi network on-site. It will definitely be a bigger part of contract negotiations moving forward based on this FCC advisory.