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Journalists hit with $200 Wi-Fi bill for presidential debates

Hofstra University is so keen on reporters using its own wireless service that it is reportedly searching reporters for personal hotspots and shutting them down.

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Want Wi-Fi at Monday night's presidential debate? Hofstra University says pay up, big spender.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

If you thought buying temporary Wi-Fi access on an airplane or at a hotel was expensive, you should try being a journalist at Monday night's presidential debate.

Members of the press can expect to pay $200 to access a wireless network during Monday evening's presidential debate at Long Island's Hofstra University. And if they want more, they will be paying more. According to the university's media rate sheet (PDF), a phone line with secured Ethernet runs $600 and unlimited wireless access for 20 or more devices will run $3,500.

And don't even think about trying to get around the fee by using your own personal hotspot; according to Politico's Kenneth Vogel, the press area is being patrolled by technicians with devices charged with detecting and shutting down hotspots.

It's not immediately clear what Hofstra's legal basis for this action is since the Federal Communications Commission issued an enforcement advisory last year that said blocking an individual's personal Wi-Fi hotspot is illegal. The government agency specifically called out hotels and convention centers, which it said had been engaging in the blockade of personal Wi-Fi hotspots.

Hofstra University representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

And to make matters worse for reporters, that expensive Wi-Fi isn't quite doing the job, according to Wired editor Emily Dreyfuss.