Baltimore Convention Center’s Blocked Wifi Results in $718,000 Fine

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The Baltimore Convention Center used to have one of those exceedingly irritating wifi schemes, in which the center’s wireless provider blocked all other signals while charging exorbitant amounts for people to get online. Now that company is facing an exorbitant fine of its own–because it turns out that blocking wifi like that is against the law. Poetic justice!

Consumerist reports that the BCC’s wifi provider, Virginia-based telcom company M.C. Dean, charged hundreds — or sometimes even thousands — of dollars to exhibitors who wanted to go online. Some of those exhibitors may have thought they’d be able to circumvent those absurd fees by using their own portable wifi hotspots, which use cell networks. But according to the FCC, M.C. Dean blocked those portable hotspots, essentially forcing everyone at the convention center to use their high-priced service. (The FCC is also investigating similar illegal wifi blocking that allegedly took place at Hilton hotels.) Even more irritating, the BCC’s wifi-blocking may have spread outside the convention center’s walls and affected passers-by as well.

The FCC has proposed slapping M.C. Dean with a $718,000 fine. “Consumers are tired of being taken advantage of by hotels and convention centers that block their personal Wi-Fi connections,” Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, said. “This disturbing practice must come to an end. It is patently unlawful for any company to maliciously block FCC-approved Wi-Fi connections.”



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