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Solved: Is sharing wifi with your neighbors against the law?

Discussion in 'Networking' started by s.haulk, Sep 22, 2008.

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  1. s.haulk

    s.haulk Thread Starter

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    That I am aware of there are currently no federal or state laws that govern who you can share your wifi with. I am in the state of Iowa and the broadband ISP that I am thinking of signing a contract with doesn't seem to have any problems with the number of computers that I setup on my network but there bandwidth speeds are only optimized for a certain number of PC's.

    I am considering www.hughesnet.com or www.agristar.com. The area that I live in does offer dsl but the bandwidth is only 128k or 256k. I can get much higher bandwidths from these two providers but there bills are very high. I am in a well established community of about 50 or less people. My plan is to setup a wifi connection and share it with all my neighbors who would be willing to split the bill with me. I have heard that it is only considered illegal but there are currently no laws on this. Does anyone have any advice for this? Thank you.
     
  2. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Umm....yes. While it can be debated ad nauseum about the legality of connecting to an unsecured wireless network, the sharing of residential broadband is pretty cut and dry. There are no ISPs that I know of that allow such an activity. Others here would agree with me on this. If there is some doubt over what I'm saying, you can ask the ISP directly whether they allow it or not. I think the answer you get will be pretty enlightening. If you don't want to do this directly, I'm sure you can find a TOS (terms of service) listed on their website spelling out what they will allow.

    Also, you're mistaken about the advantages of satellite internet. I personally would take any wired broadband connection over residential satellite service any day even if the wired connection was a 1/4 of what the satellite service promises. Note I said promise. The satellite providers will tell you what your service is capable of but don't tell you it's a sliding scale. They reserve the right to change the amount of bandwidth you get based on usage AND invoke a bandwidth abuse policy which will throttle your connection if you use too much of the bandwidth for too long of a period. What these limits are is unknown as they tend not to advertise these limits. Also, latency is going to kill you over residential satellite service. This means time sensitive communication like gaming and VPN connections are out.
     
  3. s.haulk

    s.haulk Thread Starter

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    I am already well awhere of how the satellite service works. I used to work for one of the ISP's tech support listed in my post. I understand how their bandwidth works. I didn't mean that it was actually legal to share it with the neighbors but that it is legal to hook up a certain amount of computers to the connection because they do support networking. This is of course for an network setup within the users property. While working in tech support I had a customer report to me that he had a wifi network setup to reach his barn for whatever reason. I got to thinking about it and realized that his "barn" is probably his neighbor or farm hand because who realistically has a pc setup in their barn. I suppose he could have had a laptop but what would he need it in his barn for. Besides there is no ISP in the world who is actually going to go and see what computers are connected on their network unless the owner of the connection requests that.
     
  4. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    If you look at the terms of service, you'll probably see verbage that any networking provided is only for the sole purposes of those within the household. And by that definition, your neighbors are not part of your household. Also with the TOS, it's a contract you enter when you sign up for service. Being that it's a contract which is legally enforceable, then breaching of the TOS is an illegal activity.
     
  5. s.haulk

    s.haulk Thread Starter

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    The point I am making though is that people are setting up wifi devices all the time and unwittingly sharing their connection anyway. The ISP's know this but yet encourage the purchase of this equipment and not offer to help to make sure it is setup correctly with the proper security. If someone wittingly does this there is no difference other than the consequences if the ISP can discover who is on there network but they are far too busy to care about this aspect of the business. They are only concerned with getting and keeping customers.
     
  6. s.haulk

    s.haulk Thread Starter

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    This is what the www.hughesnet.com website says about this:

    Home Networking:
    Home networking equipment is not included with your HughesNet system. For network setup, support, and configuration, contact your network hardware manufacturer and/or operating system software developer. (Hughes is not responsible for home network configuration or management).
    Please note that all computers on a home network will be sharing a single connection. Simultaneous use of high-bandwidth applications by multiple users may result in degradation of download and surfing speeds, and are subject to the Fair Access Policy.

    So really all the customers would have to worry about is the FAP which is pretty cut and clear that if it is violated they get slowed down for a 24hr period of time.

    This is what the www.agristar.com site says about this:

    Wireless Network InformationWireless networking is the easiest way to get started because you don't have to install cables and wires throughout your house. You will need wireless networking equipment (not included with your system). Wireless networks consist of two components:

    1) The wireless base station allows you to share the high-speed connection with other computers. The Ethernet output on the internal satellite modem plugs directly into the wireless base station.

    2) You will need a wireless device for each computer with which you want to share your connection. Laptops use PC cards, which can easily be installed and removed. Desktop computers can use either a PCI or USB adapter. To install the PCI adapter, you will need to open your computer whereas the USB adapter can be plugged into any open USB port. Even if you're not comfortable opening up your computer, wireless networking is not difficult to install or use.

    The key to a good wireless network is placement of your wireless base station and your computers. The wireless base station will be the link between your networked computers and your satellite system, so it is important to establish a strong signal between the wireless base station and your computers. A poor wireless signal will negatively impact your Internet performance over the network. Finding the best placement of your base station for maximum range is a trial and error process.

    Safety and Security
    Whether you have a network installed or not, maintaining your security and privacy on the Internet is of utmost importance. Make sure that you have Anti-Virus software installed on every computer you use to access the Internet. If you use a Firewall, it should also be installed on every computer in your network.


    They don't say anything about the FAP but I know that they use this too. So we have two companies encouraging a network setup but only one that really even mentions about setting up security on it so that not just anyone can get on.
     
  7. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    Look. If you understand all this, then why are you posting this question in the first place? You mention others who might have unsecured access points where others can connect up providing unwitting access to an ISP service. But in your case, you are wittingly doing this. And not just for a token few people who might be in range of your WiFi network, but for community of potentially 50 computers/users getting on the same connection. To compound the problem, you're looking to collect money from this venture whether it is for profit or to just break even is irrelavent as money IS involved.

    Not to sound harsh but it seems you're looking for additional justification to do something you know deep down is wrong but want some sort of out to make you sleep better at night.

    Also as a side note, an ISP can figure out you are doing something out of the ordinary if they look at your traffic profile see things out of the norm for a typical household. Typical households won't launch about 50 simultaneous new http requests at the same time. Even if the figure is half of that, it would still be abnormal for a typical household. No one can click or type URLs fast enough to have the request be within seconds of each other.
     
  8. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    The Hughesnet policy refers to HOME networking. Now you can't tell me what you're proposing has anything resembling a HOME network.

    As I've said in my previous post, it looks like you're trying to get justification for an activity which you know deep down is questionable. The fact you're collecting money for this venture again whether it ultimately leads to a profit or not starts to constitute a business operating out of this connection. This situation can be solved simply if you just placed a phone call to the ISP and tell them point blank what you're looking to do. Then you will have the definitive answer. Not some speculation on an internet forum.
     
  9. s.haulk

    s.haulk Thread Starter

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    Your right I am just trying to figure out how deep the **** gets if I go diving into it. It is realistically only about 10 or less households in the area but one of them is a peace officer. But with the bandwidths that they get in there area I bet that even he would be on board for this idea.
     
  10. zx10guy

    zx10guy Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

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    One thing you might want to consider.....

    What if one of your "subscribers" engages in some sort of illegal activity....ahem...kiddie pr0n? Guess who the federallies will be knocking on the door of when they track down the source IP of the traffic?

    In my opinion it's too much hassle and risk for too little gain. Also just because a peace office might look the other way doesn't make it right either.

    If you want to fully protect yourself both legally and ethically, I would contact your potential provider, tell them what you plan on doing, and if they say no problem...get that statement in writing. That's the only proper way of doing this.
     
  11. s.haulk

    s.haulk Thread Starter

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    I'm not going to have the equipment. Someone in their little commune will have to agree to having the equipment setup at their place. I am in another town altogether working as a computer techician and tutor. I didn't think about the kiddie porn thing but it would be easy enough to figure out who's doing it because all we would have to do is trace the MAC address of the computer doing it. Anyway I don't think that this will be a problem. Thanks for your advice though. I am closing this thread.
     
  12. jmwills

    jmwills

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    Yes, the owener of the line is repsonsible for all content on the network. It is aginst the "law" to share the connection? Unsure and probably not but it probably violates the EULA of your provider.
     
  13. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    This thread is closed.

    This is most surely against the terms of service for the ISP. If you doubt that, simply call them and ask, that will solve the problem for you.

    Any future requests of this nature will be frowned upon. :rolleyes:
     
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