Now You Know: Hotels Inject Banner Ads Into The Wi-Fi They Charge You For

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This story made the rounds a few days ago but I think generally it’s something more people should know. During a visit to the very expensive and not very nice Times Square Marriott, Justin Watt noticed a strange bar at the top of his blog’s home page. He had recently dealt with a PHP hack and so was alert for changes on the site and when he dug further he found some strange Javascript embedded into the page.

Noting that nothing changed on his server, he posted on the experience and thought little more about it – until a commenter noted that the behavior he noticed was coming from an RXG A8 or “Revenue Extraction Hotspot Gateway.” In short, this box, which sits between the access point and the Internet, injects ads into Wi-Fi streams. These are the same streams you pay through the nose for at hotels like the Times Square Marriott.

Here’s a bit more about this exciting revenue-gathering opportunity.

UPDATE – Looks like they pulled the video 15 minutes ago.

To be clear, the Marriott charges for the same Wi-Fi they’re injecting with ads. From the website:

For a daily rate of 16.95 USD, the following features are available in your guest room:
High-speed Internet access
Unlimited local phone calls
Unlimited long distance calls (within the country), not available in all markets

Obviously this kind of garbage isn’t new and this probably isn’t the first time someone experienced this sort of behavior. The trick, now is that the Internet has made this sort of behavior much more noticeable the outrage can spread further than room 1209 of the Times Square Marriott. Arguably, the business of selling Wi-Fi access will shrivel and die as WWAN devices end up in more business folks’ pockets. But until then, can we not be monetized against twice in the same hotel stay?