A week after the FCC issued an enforcement advisory warning of potential fines against businesses  that block consumer access to personal Wi-Fi connections, Marriott International withdrew its pending petition, which  asked the FCC to declare that operators of hotel-based and other commercial Wi-Fi networks do not  violate Section 333 of the 1934 Communications Act when blocking usage of personal Wi-Fi devices  that could pose security and other risks to on- premise Wi-Fi networks.

Joined by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and Ryman Hospitality Properties,  Marriott filed the petition for rulemaking or declaratory ruling last August in the midst of an FCC  investigation into allegations that employees of the Marriott Gaylord Opryland Resort blocked the  personal Wi-Fi connections of guests to force guests to pay for access to the hotel’s Wi-Fi  network. Two months later, Marriott and the FCC settled the probe with a consent decree under which  Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine and refrain from blocking guest Wi-Fi connections at  Marriott-owned or managed properties throughout the U.S. Notwithstanding the continued pendency of  the Marriott petition, the FCC signaled last week that “no hotel, convention center, or other  commercial establishment or the network operator providing such services may intentionally block or  disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises,” cautioning that “violations could lead to the  assessment of substantial monetary penalties.”

Citing FCC and public interest group opposition, a spokeswoman for AHLA acknowledged “we are  formally withdrawing our petition” as “it is clear that the petition is not achieving [its] goal.”  As the spokeswoman noted that AHLA had convened a task force “to develop practical, market-based  solutions and collaborate with our partners in the technology, telecommunications and other sectors  as well as with the FCC,” a Marriott official maintained, “we’re doing everything we can to promote our customers’ connectivity . . . and we’re working with the industry to find  security solutions.”