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Things to Know Before You Share WiFi With Flatmates
Home & Lifestyle Blog | MATE | 27 June 2023
Living with flatmates can sometimes feel like navigating a maze of diplomacy and compromise, and one of the corridors in this maze that often gets overlooked is the WiFi network. It’s not just about dividing the monthly bill – there are also questions of network management, speed optimisation, and data security to consider. Here we walk you through the challenges and solutions of sharing your WiFi in a co-living setting.
Reasons to share (or not to share) your WiFi
Before you go around sharing the WiFi password, it’s important to consider the pros and cons associated with this arrangement so you can make an informed choice.
Benefits of sharing your WiFi
One of the most tangible benefits of sharing your WiFi network with your flatmates is the potential to cut down on individual costs. Instead of each person maintaining a separate WiFi network, everyone contributes to a single, shared network and plan, effectively dividing the bill and making the internet more affordable for everyone.
Managing one shared network is often easier than juggling multiple networks in a single residence. A shared network means that there’s only one set of network settings, one WiFi password to remember, and one point of contact (usually the account holder) with the internet service provider.
Access to networked devices
Sharing WiFi allows flatmates to easily share and access networked devices such as printers, scanners, and even streaming devices. This can be a significant convenience factor—imagine being able to print a document without having to transfer it via USB or email or stream your favourite shows from any device in the house.
Drawbacks of sharing your WiFi
Slower internet speeds
While sharing a WiFi network can be more cost-effective, it may also lead to slower internet speeds. As more devices connect to the same network, there’s increased demand on the network bandwidth, which can result in slower download and upload speeds than what you might expect, especially during peak usage times.
Sharing a WiFi network is not without some security risks. If a flatmate unknowingly contracts a virus or malware, it could potentially spread to other devices connected to the network.
While sharing your WiFi with flatmates does come with a set of challenges, it’s important to note that most of them can be effectively managed with the right measures and tools. By setting boundaries, establishing rules, and having regular discussions about internet use, you can make the WiFi-sharing experience a positive one for everyone involved.
Detecting unauthorised usage of your WiFi
As beneficial as sharing your WiFi can be, it’s equally important to ensure that only authorised individuals—in this case, your flatmates—are accessing it. Unauthorised users not only consume your valuable bandwidth but also pose security risks. Detecting such unauthorised usage involves a few key steps:
Monitor connected devices
Most modern routers have a feature that allows you to view a list of devices currently connected to your WiFi network. To access this, you need to log into your router’s settings—usually by typing your router’s IP address into a web browser’s address bar (the specifics can usually be found on a sticker on your router or in its manual).
Once you’re in, look for a section often labelled ‘attached devices’, ‘connected devices’, or something similar. Here, you should see a list of all devices connected to your network, often with details such as the device name, MAC address, and IP address. By regularly monitoring this list, you can identify any unfamiliar devices that might indicate unauthorised usage.
Set up router notifications
Some advanced routers offer the ability to send you notifications when a new device connects to your WiFi network. If your router has this feature, it can be a valuable tool for real-time monitoring of your network. Check your router’s user guide or consult the manufacturer’s website to learn how to set up this feature.
Use network monitoring software
For more in-depth monitoring, you might consider using network monitoring software. Such tools can provide a wealth of information about your network, including real-time data on bandwidth usage by device, so you can quickly spot any unusual activity. Examples include programs like Wireshark or GlassWire, although you should always ensure that any software you install is from a trusted source.
Setting up a secure home networkCreating a secure WiFi network is critical to protect your personal data and internet usage from unauthorised access. Here are some general steps to setting up your own secure home network:
1. Change default admin credentials
First, ensure you’ve changed the default username and password used to access your router’s settings. These credentials are often generic and can be easily found online, leaving your network vulnerable. Create a unique, strong password to protect your network settings.
2. Enable network encryption
Modern routers usually offer Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) or Wi-Fi Protected Access III (WPA3) encryption standards. They help protect your network by encrypting data sent over your network. Make sure to enable this in your router settings.
3. Create a strong WiFi password
Your WiFi password is your first line of defence against unauthorised access. Ensure it’s strong and unique—a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols is recommended. Remember to share your new Wi-Fi network password only with your flatmates.
4. Update your router’s firmware
Regularly updating your router’s firmware ensures you have the latest security patches and features. This can often be done through the router’s settings page, although the process may vary depending on the router’s brand and model.
5. Enable MAC address filtering
If you want to take an extra step in securing your network, consider setting up MAC address filtering. This feature allows you to create a list of devices that are allowed to connect to your WiFi network. Any device not on this list will be unable to connect, even if they have your WiFi password.
Optimising speed and minimising bandwidth usage
One of the challenges of sharing WiFi is maintaining optimal speed when multiple devices are connected. A few simple steps can help manage this:
- Set bandwidth limits for certain devices or activities.
- Encourage your flatmates to download large files during off-peak hours.
- Use Quality of Service (QoS) settings on your router to prioritise certain types of traffic.
- Regularly update your router’s firmware for peak performance.
You might also explore sharing WiFi via ethernet as a wired connection could provide faster and more stable internet access than a wireless connection.
Preventing illegal activity
Sharing WiFi also means sharing responsibility for what happens on your network. Discuss with your flatmates about the need for legal and ethical online behaviour. Make sure everyone understands that downloading copyrighted material or engaging in other illegal activities could have serious consequences for everyone sharing the network.
Sharing your WiFi password the smart way
Technological advancements have simplified the process of sharing WiFi. If you or your flatmates use an Android phone or multiple Android devices, you can share your Wi-Fi network password directly through the settings app. Simply tap ‘share password’, and a QR code will appear.
Flatmates can then scan QR codes to connect their devices. For an even smoother process, consider using a QR code generator that enables sharing WiFi with a simple scan. Just ensure your “QR code” is placed in a secure location accessible only to your flatmates.
Apple devices also have a similar feature, but it requires both devices to be within Bluetooth range and the person sharing the password to have the recipient’s Apple ID in their contacts.
Choosing the right Wi-Fi provider
Choosing the right Wi-Fi provider can significantly improve your sharing experience. With MATE, you can expect reliable service, excellent customer support, and flexible nbn plans.
With a range of unlimited data nbn plans tailored to the unique usage habits of various household sizes, we have something for everyone. From our G’Day plan, offering 12Mbps typical evening speeds ideal for SD streaming, to our top-tier Fair Dinkum plan, delivering ultra-high speeds of 202Mbps for heavy-duty internet usage—we’ve got your household covered.
While sharing your WiFi with flatmates can bring a host of benefits, from cost to convenience, it’s crucial to set up and maintain your network appropriately to ensure a smooth and safe internet experience.
Ready to start sharing WiFi with flatmates? Sign up to an unlimited data MATE internet plan today and start enjoying the benefits of reliable, high-speed internet with 100% Aussie-based support. Make the smart choice for your shared living situation, and make MATE your partner in navigating the world of WiFi sharing.