Smart City Networks (Smart City), the largest independent provider of managed network services to the convention and trade show industry, today announced it has entered into a Consent Decree with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that resolves an investigation related to the use of enabling technologies for managing and protecting WiFi networks. As part of the Consent Decree, Smart City did not admit liability, and the FCC did not find that Smart City violated any laws.
“Our goal has always been to provide world-class services to our customers, which means creating a WiFi environment that works for everybody, and our company takes regulatory compliance extremely seriously. We are not gatekeepers to the Internet.
Many large companies cannot run their million-dollar exhibit booths on Internet service from a cellphone. So, as recommended by the Department of Commerce and Department of Defense, we have occasionally used industry-standard technologies made available by major equipment manufacturers to prevent antenna wireless “hotspot” devices from significantly interfering with and disrupting the operations of neighboring exhibitors on our convention floors.
This monitoring equipment was set to contain devices that used excessive levels of radio transmission power and would interfere with other exhibitor’s hot spots or devices. Generally, personal cell phones and MiFi devices did not reach those excessive levels of transmission power. These same technologies are widely used by major convention centers around the globe as well as many federal agencies, and this containment activity resulted in significantly less than one percent of all devices being deauthenticated.
Regardless of the FCC’s press release, there was no finding by the FCC in the Consent Decree that the Smart City’s equipment would automatically turn off devices in response to economic considerations (for instance: payment of an “$80 fee”). In fact, we provide free WiFi access in all of our clients’ public visitor spaces, which amounts to more than 31 million convention center visitors per year receiving free, high-quality WiFi.
We have always acted in good faith, and we had no prior notice that the FCC considered the use of this standardized, ‘available-out-of-the-box’ technology to be a violation of its rules. But when the FCC contacted us in October 2014, we ceased using the technology in question — nearly three full months prior to the FCC issuing their advisory earlier this year, in January.
The FCC effectively applied this advisory retroactively to us and while we have strong legal arguments, we’ve determined that mounting a vigorous defense would ultimately prove too costly and too great a distraction for our leadership team. As a result, we’ve chosen to work cooperatively with the FCC, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter. We are eager to return our energies to providing leadership to our industry and delivering world-class services to our clients. We remain committed to working with our clients and industry associations to develop common sense rules regarding how wireless networks and devices are utilized in the meetings and tradeshow environment to the benefit of all stakeholders (including the FCC).
About Smart City Networks
Smart City Networks is the nation’s leading telecommunications provider to convention centers and hospitality venues. Providing free WiFi access to nearly 31 million users in public spaces, and employing more than 200 team members nationwide, the Las Vegas-headquartered company manages the technology services for more than 3,000 events annually, including virtually every Fortune 500 Company event and major tradeshow. From auto shows to national political party conventions to world economic summits, Smart City Networks has been on the floor, behind the scenes, and maintaining the connections that enable people to make important things happen.
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