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Google and Microsoft stand against hotel plans to block Wi-Fi hotspots

Microsoft and Google have agreed to join a lobbying group that opposes a plan to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots inside hotels.

A few months back, the American Hospitality & Lodging Association, together with Marriott International, filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking for permission so that hotel operators can manage all the wireless networks on their property, even if it "may result in ‘interference with or cause interference’ to a [wireless device] being used by a guest on the operator’s property".

This basically means that any Wi-Fi network, even those created by the guests' hotspots from their mobile devices over their data plans, would be blocked.

The hotel industry claims that this way they protect their customers from "rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber attacks and identity theft".

"Wi-Fi network operators should be able to manage their networks in order to provide a secure and reliable Wi-Fi service to guests on their premises," they said.

This, however, didn't sit well with Microsoft, or Google.

"Allowing hotels or other property owners deliberately to block third parties’ access to Wi-Fi signals would undermine the public interest benefits of unlicensed use," said a Google statement.

The search engine giant filed a formal complaint (opens in new tab) to FCC late on Monday.

Microsoft (opens in new tab) also urged the Commission to reject the Petition.

While hotels say they are trying to protect their customers, opponents of the proposal argue that they are simply trying to keep the guests dependent on hotels' networks, which are more often than not, very pricy.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.