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Internet Sharing over 802.11 Wireless Networks

This is a reformatted document of an email I sent to the ACA in August 2003 and it's response. Apologies and thanks to Gary Fraser of the ACA's Licensing and National Interests Team. -- TomFifield


I am just enquiring in an attempt to try to finalise the legal issues surrounding the sharing of an Internet Connection on an 802.11-Based Wireless Network, on the 2.4Ghz ISM band.

Is it legal to join networks or machines, using 802.11 equipment, in such a way that a WAN connection with Internet access, for example a residential xDSL Internet connection, is effectively split between two premises?


I understand from your email that you propose to use a network unit to supply Internet access via wireless to other users. The network is therefore being used to supply carriage services (data is a carriage service)to the public. The concept of supplying to the public is discussed in section 44 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act), and in that regard you are supplying ouside your "immediate circle". Section 41 states that the owner of a network unit that is used to supply carriage services to the public must hold a carrier licence.

However as long as you are not receiving any monetary payment or other form of tangible reward from the supply of carriage services over the network unit you can claim exemption on the grounds of 'non-commercial' use in regard to section 34 of the Act , being the use of a base station which is part of a terrestrial radiocommunications customer access network .

Note that the exemption on the grounds of 'non-commercial' use is only available in regard to the use of a designated radiocommunication facility which is a base station that is part of a terrestrial radiocommunications customer access network. This means that an exemption on the grounds of 'non-commercial' use cannot be claimed for single line links or multiple line links.

The persons involved will not be doing these activities in a for-profit relationship, however, if the two parties agreed to say, 'Half the bill', would this also affect the issue?

However, the splitting of the bill with your neighbour would not qualify as 'non-commercial' as you are gaining an advantage by providing the service to your neighbour. He will be paying for half the cost of supply which is an advantage to you. You would need to supply your neighbour for free to be classified as non-commercial.

Does distance of the premises come into the equation? Are very small gaps(i.e. Next-Door neighbours) legal, where others are not?

Statutory distances are not applicable in regard to designated radiocommunications. The signal only needs to be between two points. However line links, such as cable, are restricted by statutory distances between distinct places.

What will my ISP say ?

I would also caution you that the ISP or the provider of the ADSL line may have some concern regarding what you propose. I am certainly not qualified to comment, however you may want to look at the service agreements with these entities.

Gary Fraser

Licensing and National Interests Team


Be careful what you ask

I'm not certain we got the answer we wanted, and I think if the question was asked from a different perspective then a different answer would be given.
  • What if I live at two premises (perhaps one during the week, and another during the weekend) and want to split the connection between my own two premises?
  • What if I were a parent and want to provide internet access to my children who are renting close to the university they are studying at?
  • Is legal to share internet access on a single premises with non-family members? How do students who are house-sharing get around this if this is illegal?
-- TysonClugg

Discussion reopened

I am trying to revive this discussion in the framework of FAUC (Future AUstralian Carrier).
-- Sjors

Version 5 (current) modified Fri, 25 Jul 2008 03:08:23 +1000 by tyson
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