Internet Sharing: Save Utility Money After the Big Move

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Internet sharing is a great way to save on bills after you have made a move. However, there are different types of Internet sharing, and some work better than others. Read on to learn more about this sharing trend, its pitfalls, and how it can save you money with both roommates and nearby neighbors.

Splitting Internet with Roommates

Sharing Internet with roommates is a simple method of saving on Internet costs with a relatively easy arrangement. One person typically picks the Internet service and is in charge of paying the service provider monthly. This person then sends bills to the other roommates each month for their share of the Internet costs.

It is typical best to split the Internet bill equally across all roommates, unless you have a remarkable exception, such as someone who doesn’t use the Internet at all or someone who needs a faster connection for work purposes. Internet bills are often bundled with other utilities to make payments easier for everyone. There are plenty of apps you can use to send reminders and allow your friends to pay wireless, including common payment channels like PayPal.

Sharing Internet with Neighbors

Internet sharing with neighbors is considerably more complicated than splitting costs with roommates, no matter which side of the arrangement your are on. The risks are high, but there is also the potential to save a significant amount of money.

If you are the one supplying the Internet connection, you can offer your neighbor (this works best in apartments, duplexes, etc.) the use of your wireless network, through your own wireless hub. Give them your wireless password, and they will be able to access the Internet. They, in turn, pay you a certain amount of money per month – anywhere from 10% to 50% of the Internet bill, based on individual circumstances.

If this works, you get a discounted Internet bill at relatively low costs. But if something goes wrong, the damage is difficult to deal with. Here are a few worst case scenarios:

  • Your neighbor doesn’t pay: What are you going to do? How much grace time are you going to give them? How are you going to enforce a contract? Suing your neighbor is out of the question. You can change passwords and block their use, but you still lose at least a couple month’s worth of payment.
  • Your neighbor moves: Apartment dwellers in particular move frequently. You will have to create a new contract with every new neighbor.
  • Your neighbor uses the Internet for illegal activity: Since it is technically your Internet, you are directly implicated in whatever your neighbor does.
  • Your service provider finds out: Sharing your Internet and getting paid for may be against your provider contract, leading to canceled services. Now you have to find a new provider.
  • Your neighbor gives out your password to everyone else: Suddenly, your Internet slows to a snail’s pace and you can no longer trust your neighbor.

The best approach to Internet sharing with neighbors is to have a community meeting about splitting service costs and come to an agreement that can printed out and signed as a simple contract. Then you can use one of the utility bill apps or PayPal to arrange payments. Since Internet sharing comes down to trust, it’s a good idea to share primarily with people you already know or who come recommended by your friends.

If you are on the receiving end, paying to use someone else’s wireless Internet, Internet sharing can be a great deal…as long as your neighborhood “provider” keeps their end of the deal. If they suddenly change their password or move away, you have lost your Internet connection completely. You are also stuck with whatever broadband speed they choose.

Protecting Your Internet Services

If the savings of Internet sharing continue to catch your eye, there are a few basic methods your can use to protect your Internet services. One of the simplest and most effective is to change your Wi-Fi password at regular intervals, such as once every month. This allows you control who has access, and lets you quickly ban neighbors who are late with their payments.

Photo Credit: PhotoSteve101

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