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Paul Merrell

Comcast hit with FCC's biggest cable fine ever - Oct. 11, 2016 - 0 views

  • Comcast is being forced to pay the largest fine the FCC has ever levied against a cable operator. Its offense: Charging customers for services and equipment they didn't ask for. The company agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty and to submit to a "compliance plan," in which regulators will monitor Comcast for the next five years to ensure it cleans up its act.
  • The FCC said it received over 1,000 complaints from customers, who said Comcast charged them for premium channels, cable boxes, DVRs or other products that they never ordered. In many cases, the FCC said, customers expressly told Comcast that they didn't want the add-on options, but they were charged anyway. Complaints also describe how customers spent "significant time and energy to attempt to remove the unauthorized charges" and get refunds, the commission said. The complaints spurred the FCC to launch an investigation nearly two years ago. Today's settlement marks the conclusion of the probe. Under the five-year compliance plan, Comcast must begin sending customers special notifications every time a new charge or service is added to their bill. The company also has to add a way for customers to easily "block the addition of new services or equipment to their accounts," according to an FCC press release.
  • Comcast (CMCSA) will also be required to compensate or address complaints from customers who have disputed charges, and it will be barred from referring an account to collections or suspending an account that has a disputed charge. Comcast agreed to the fine without admitting any guilt.
Paul Merrell

Marriott fined $600,000 for jamming guest hotspots - SlashGear - 0 views

  • Marriott will cough up $600,000 in penalties after being caught blocking mobile hotspots so that guests would have to pay for its own WiFi services, the FCC has confirmed today. The fine comes after staff at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee were found to be jamming individual hotspots and then charging people up to $1,000 per device to get online. Marriott has been operating the center since 2012, and is believed to have been running its interruption scheme since then. The first complaint to the FCC, however, wasn't until March 2013, when one guest warned the Commission that they suspected their hardware had been jammed. An investigation by the FCC's Enforcement Bureau revealed that was, in fact, the case. A WiFi monitoring system installed at the Gaylord Opryland would target access points with de-authentication packets, disconnecting users so that their browsing was interrupted.
  • The FCC deemed Marriott's behaviors as contravening Section 333 of the Communications Act, which states that "no person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this chapter or operated by the United States Government." In addition to the $600,000 civil penalty, Marriott will have to cease blocking guests, hand over details of any access point containment features to the FCC across its entire portfolio of owned or managed properties, and finally file compliance and usage reports each quarter for the next three years.
  • Update: Marriott has issued the following statement on the FCC ruling: "Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft. Like many other institutions and companies in a wide variety of industries, including hospitals and universities, the Gaylord Opryland protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers. We believe that the Gaylord Opryland's actions were lawful. We will continue to encourage the FCC to pursue a rulemaking in order to eliminate the ongoing confusion resulting from today's action and to assess the merits of its underlying policy."
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