Broadband is a significant cost for most people and sharing a broadband connection is something that many people look into. If you live in a shared house or apartment then you will probably be sharing a broadband router with the other people living with you.

Sharing With Neighbours

Everyone needs access to the Internet, but not everyone can afford even the minimum broadband package available from ISPs (Internet Service Providers). The obvious solution is to share the cost with a neighbour. You could drill a hole through the wall and connect a neighbour’s computer with a network cable, but a wireless connection is a lot easier and is the usual way that people do this.

With a wireless shared broadband all you need to do is to give your password to your neighbour.

Risks include security. It is a simple matter for even an amateur to hack into another computer that is on the same network. You will be on the same network if you are sharing a router, so you have to decide how much you trust your neighbours.

Security includes virus protection. If your neighbour’s computer is infected it could spread to any other machines on the network. Even if you have up to date virus protection on your own computers do you want to take this risk?

Bandwidth is another serious issue. We have all seen the TV ads with everyone in the family simultaneously streaming live TV, playing games, browsing and shopping. That is a fantasy, even with the fastest broadband package. Every user’s activity slows down that of every other user. If your neighbour is watching videos online then your connection could become so slow as to be unusable.

Fair Use limitations could lead to your broadband service being terminated or suspended if your neighbour watches a large number of online videos. Every ISP has a fair use clause in their contract that limits the amount of data that can be downloaded. You are in control and know about your own family’s use, but not your neighbour’s.

Is It a Good Idea?

No. Avoid entering into an agreement like this that has so much potential for unpleasantness.

Sharing with House-Mates

All of the same arguments regarding security and bandwidth issues apply. Young people often have no concept of bandwidth and limiting Internet use so you are highly likely to run into issues where your use is adversely impacted by your flatmates’ Internet use.

Stick with it as long as it works for you, but be particular about keeping your own virus protection updated and use password protection on all of your important documents.

The easiest solution if you need to opt out of any cost-sharing agreement is to go the mobile (3G) broadband route and get a mifi adapter with a data contract on your chosen phone network. One mifi adapter run your own wireless network and allow all of your devices to access the Internet through the one sim card and data package. You can then connect your ebook reader, smart phone and tablet or laptop to your own wi-fi network run from your mifi. There are “unlimited” data deals available, but even these have fair use clauses and are not really unlimited at all. Use a broadband speed checker to compare services and make sure you get the best deal available.

The other solution is to get your own cable or DSL line, but the connection costs and 12 month contract associated with these options will not suit most people in this situation. This is also a much more confrontational approach and will cause upset with your flatmates as well as possible problems with your landlord.

Is Sharing a Good Idea?

Yes, as long as you take precautions and have a backup plan for when it no longer works out.