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Today, the Federal Communications Commission fined the Smart City Networks (“Smart City”) for jamming Wi-Fi. According to the FCC enforcement action and accompanying consent decree, Smart City operates Wi-Fi access networks at convention centers around the country. Smart City repeatedly jammed the private Wi-Fi hotspots of convention center attendees to force consumers to pay to use the convention center Wi-Fi access operated by Smart City.
Under the consent decree, Smart City must (a) pay a fine of $750,000; (b) stop jamming Wi-Fi at all the convention centers it manages; and, (c) set up a compliance program to make sure Smart City does not jam Wi-Fi again.
Last year, the FCC entered into a similar consent decree with Marriott Corp. for Wi-Fi jamming.
The following statement may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“Nearly every consumer travelling today depends on Wi-Fi access to stay in touch with the their office, kiss their children goodnight remotely, and check in for their flight home. Unsurprisingly, convention centers would rather force consumers to use their incredibly slow and ridiculously expensive Wi-Fi networks rather than let consumers bring their own Wi-Fi hotspots.
“Once again, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc shows how a smart and determined “cop on the beat” can save consumers millions of dollars by putting a stop to such rip offs. Only an expert investigative agency like the FCC can ferret out these kinds of Wi-Fi jamming scams, and only an aggressive Enforcement Bureau can protect people when these scams come to light. In light of the importance of Wi-Fi in our daily lives, we applaud the FCC for remaining undaunted in the face of industry pressure to “back down” on enforcement and remain the consumer protection agency the American people need and deserve.”