One House, Two Lines
September 2, 2016 4:44 AM   Subscribe

You have an internet connection running through your house (through a phone line). You move out, take the Wi-Fi box with you, but forget to cancel your internet connection. Someone else moves into the same house and goes to get their internet connection set up using the same carrier. Will the carrier be able to set them up with a new internet connection, or will there be some kind of conflict between your already existing (but unused) connection and setting up a new one?
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You need to call and make sure your account is fully cancelled because the answer is: who knows.

I've lived in the same apartment for over four years, with the same internet provider the whole time. I personally have made no changes to the account.

About two years ago my internet just cut off out of the blue, and when I called to find out what on earth was happening, I was told I hadn't been paying my bills. Which I had. Except somehow my old account number now belonged to someone with my same (common) name at an address very far away where I'd never lived, and the account number serving my apartment had changed to something else. No notification about this. It took hours on the phone, and I received bills for the random address's account for months after the conversation. Somehow their system had decided that I had two accounts at two different addresses. It was a huge, annoying mess, and that was without me provoking them into a mistake in any way. (Yay, Comcast.)

Anyway, long story short, your internet provider could royally screw this up and cause you months of headaches, or it could disappear and never cause you any issues, but there's no way for you to know. Better for you to stay ahead of it and make sure you do everything you need to do on your end.
posted by phunniemee at 4:54 AM on September 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I had a similar experience as phunniemee. Moved within the same town, canceled service at old address, started service at new. About 3 months in, figured out that AT&T was sending me two bills in my email monthly, not 2 copies of the same bill because service at the old address "had not been canceled" (it had; I had a confirmation number and everything). I'm not sure if our old place had gotten rented out in the meantime. Took some time on the phone to sort it out.

But, in internet/cable companies will never say no to something that would give them more money, and that includes (1) having you having multiple accounts at multiple addresses, and (2) having two accounts at the same address.
posted by damayanti at 5:09 AM on September 2, 2016

I think the answer is 'it depends.' When you moved you took your wireless router that you own? Or did you take their cable modem that they own? Someone moved there. They can't just connect any old thing, it's gotta be authorized to join the ISPs network. Can you just follow up and make sure service is canceled at that address?
posted by fixedgear at 5:57 AM on September 2, 2016

I used to work for a company that installed DSL. The way DSL used to be mainly installed is that it came in on the "unused" pair of copper wires in a 4-wire line and you'd get it turned on at the same time as phone service and pay the telco. Nowadays a lot of people are getting dry loop service meaning no registered phone at that address and sometimes it's non-telco companies doing this. I only mention it because some of this will depend on the infrastructure of the company providing it. Telcos are goofs but they have more rules/regs/procedures than other rando DSL providers.

At my old company there would be someone saying to the new person "Hey there is already service at that address" (because it was all address based) and there might be some bumps figuring out what the deal was for the new person for a bit. Without your details they couldn't just plug in any old DSL modem and get internet access. And if you didn't cancel but also weren't paying they'd probably cancel the line and put in a new one for the new person. A few other sort of things that matter

- you didn't cancel but are you still paying bills?
- do you know the new person in your place (and they know how to contact you etc)?
- why aren't you cancelling since you're aware of the issue?
posted by jessamyn at 7:37 AM on September 2, 2016

You are forgetting one other possibility: Person moves in, plugs in their "wifi box", realizes there is already service, never calls to set up their own service, free internet!

I've moved 8 times in the past 10 years. 7 of those times I've had to spend a LOT of time on the phone with the internet provider convincing them that I live here now and they should cancel the last person's service and set up mine. It is a giant PITA.

Every single one of those times I could just plug in my cable modem and use the internet even though I never set up my account. I don't know why people never cancel (or maybe they do and the cable company is just really bad) but I hate those people, I already hate TWC for a lot of reasons but I can add this as well if I need to.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:56 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

In Australia this situation is called "connect outstanding". The new tenant would, at a bare minimum, need to provide Proof of Occupancy Documents proving that they live in the property. It can take several weeks to finally get the old service cancelled so that the new one can be connected.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:53 AM on September 2, 2016

Seconding kinddieserzeit. I had the same experience in the US.
posted by entropyiswinning at 10:24 AM on September 2, 2016

Don't you have to provide a password before you get connected? It's most likely automatic with your machine, but if someone else connected their computer to your line, it wouldn't get the proper password. At least that's how it works for me (Verizon Fios).
posted by james33 at 4:56 AM on September 3, 2016

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