Should You Share An Internet Connection With Your Neighbor?

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 19, 2012
Updated • Nov 29, 2012

Sharing an Internet connection with other household members or even neighbors is easier than ever. All you need is a solid wireless router with enough reach to give all parties lag- and trouble-free access to the Internet. All you need for that is to set up a wireless router in a location that is ideal for everyone, share the access key and you are good to go. You can add wireless repeaters and other hardware to the mix if you need to cover a wider area.

There are however issues that you may want to consider before going all in on the idea. There is first the issue of ownership and all the responsibilities that come with it.

The subscriber is basically responsible for all activities. Your neighbors' kids downloading music from the Internet, illegal activities such as fraud or spam, or even hacking or computer sabotage. Law enforcement, lawyers and the ISP will be knocking at the subscribers' door first, or even worse, smash it wide open in the night. And while that's without doubt a horror scenario, I'd personally would not want to experience it first hand.

Other issues may come up. Since you are sharing bandwidth, you may experience downloading, streaming or even connectivity issues on the Internet. While you may be able to upgrade your line for a fee, you may still experience less than optimal situations especially in the evening or on weekends.

You also have to consider the possibility that your neighbors move away, and when they do, they are likely unwilling to pay whatever you have agreed on for the monthly broadband plan. This could mean that you would overpay for an expensive plan that you do not need anymore.

Another aspect to consider is the availability of the Internet connection itself. Imagine your Internet connection going down on a day where you are not at home. Your neighbors cannot call your ISP to get the issue resolved, and they probably cannot get into your house either to reset the modem. This may not be a problem if you are back in the evening, but what if it happens while you are on vacation?

You are also sharing a local network with your neighbors, which can make it a lot easier for them to hack into your computer. And while that is again something that is not likely to happen, it is still a possibility.

Depending on your Internet Service Provider's terms of service it may be forbidden to share the connection with another household or person. Abuse can lead to termination of service, fees and even legal action in court.

Would I share my Internet connection? I certainly would with my family, and a few close friends. I'd still have a bad feeling during that time.

Do you share your Internet with someone else? If so, why?


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  1. Diego said on January 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I’ll share my conection under certain rules…
    And you MUST configure QoS.
    Think about it… You pay the access to Internet as you were using the conection 24/7/year. Every time you don’t use it is wasted money.
    So you can share it.

  2. jasray said on January 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    MAC is gleaned along with IP’s, by RIAA, so may as well write a letter and tell the industry about any questionable downloads.

    I do have a great neighbor and enough bandwidth, but I don’t share the signal. Internet service is cheap enough around here that one doesn’t really need to share a connection. $19.99 gets crisp, clean wireless throughout the valley.

  3. Dominic said on January 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    There has to be some kind of legal protection, otherwise how would free wifi offerings (such as McDonalds) exist? There would always be a risk though of at least being pulled in and having to explain why illicit traffic originated from your ip.

  4. MartinJB said on January 20, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I’d worry about security — so no
    Thought provoking article though

  5. fokka said on January 20, 2012 at 1:59 am

    a few years ago i used to share my connection with my befriended neighbor for 10 bucks a month. we had no problem with the speed, but this frickin’ netgear router always lost the connection. XD

    i didn’t yet share it since i moved, though.

    i don’t know about other countries, but in austria afaik the holder of the connection is held responsible for illegal actions, even if your wireless gets hacked.

    1. olad said on January 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

      @morely the IT guy; and i am sure martin would not want you either. why don’t you just enjoy the article without nitpicking? On second thoughts, I wouldn’t want you in my family either – and I share my broadband connection…

  6. Morely the IT Guy said on January 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

    “Would I share my Internet connection? I certainly would with my family, and a few close friends. I’d still have a bad feeling during that time.”

    I’m glad I’m not a member of your family, Martin. People who don’t even trust close family members are usually not very nice people.

    1. Sina said on January 20, 2012 at 2:38 am

      @Morely the IT Guy, It’s not all about trusting family. Sometimes people didn’t know, doing “blablabla”s are forbidden or illegal. It doesn’t mean they wanna drive you to be guilty ! :-)

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 20, 2012 at 12:49 am

      You most certainly misunderstood my intention.

  7. Joey said on January 19, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    I used to allow my next door neighbor to leech off my Internet for free (cousin’s kids). At first it was okay. Then sometimes while playing games online (Modern Warfare 3, SWTOR) I would have latency issues. At times I would even get disconnected from my game. This pissed me off so much I took the wireless router laying on my desk and placed it on the floor upside down with the antenna touching the floor. This drastically cut the signal to my cousin’s home and they cannot connect anymore. They may not be happy but I sure am when playing online games, lol.

  8. DanTe said on January 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Sharing internet connections is perfectly fine. Even when the police comes asking what’s with those naked little boy pictures. Just blame it on the neighbor.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 20, 2012 at 1:23 am

      I heard that some users keep their Wi-fi unprotected or weakly protected to blame everything on a hacker if the police should come knocking at their doors.

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