Student Broadband

You and your housemates will need to think about how fast your broadband needs to be - chances are there'll be lots of you connecting at the same time - and, how much it'll cost when you divide the bill between you.

Compare broadband deals as well as digital TV and home phone bundles to find the right option for you. 


Key points


Things to consider before you start looking at deals

Student broadband might be included as part of your accommodation costs, so be sure to check, especially if you’re a student living in a halls of residence.

Moving into a shared house, however, can mean negotiating budgets and internet habits with housemates. Organising your finances in a house share can be difficult, but having an up-front conversation is the best way to tackle the issue. Once you have done this you can start searching for the perfect broadband deal.

There are many broadband deals specifically tailored to students, allowing you to take out shorter contracts with more flexibility.


Contract length for students

Student broadband is no different to standard broadband in terms of what you get. The difference generally comes with the added flexibility offered by shorter deals which allow you to tailor your contract to your needs.

Lots of broadband providers offer nine-month contracts which fits in with the length of time you're likely to live in your student house. These contracts mean you won't have to pay for broadband while you're not living in the property in the summer months, meaning a potential saving when compared to traditional broadband contracts of 12 to 24 months.

Non-student-specific broadband deals shouldn't be ignored, though. Broadband companies like you to take out longer contracts, so may reward you with a competitive price for taking out a 12-month deal.

Month-by-month contracts could be another option to consider - this would give you the flexibility to cancel at any point, rather than being tied into a contract, but again you may end up paying a higher price for that flexibility.


Types of broadband

The type of broadband you decide on should depend on a number of factors like the number of people sharing the accommodation, the internet speed you need and the download allowance you're looking for.

Wireless broadband is probably high on your list of priorities, as you and your housemates will need to access the internet for university work and leisure from different areas of the accommodation.

If you and your housemates are concerned about cost, mobile broadband could be worth thinking about, but remember that this is likely to come with restrictions with regard to speed, coverage and data allowance. So if you're looking to stream television programmes or are a keen online gamer, you may want to look elsewhere.

Fibre optic broadband offers the quickest speeds and a large download allowance; this could be perfect for a shared house. However, fibre optic tends to be more expensive - you want to consider both your budget and internet usage before deciding on a deal.

TV and Broadband Bundles

If you're also interested in TV packages, it could be a good idea to bundle this with your broadband as attractive deals can be offered. Entertainment packages, like Sky or Virgin Media may not be available for the majority of students. Costs can be prohibitive, and you may have to sit in front of the box every night to make it worth your money.

As alternatives, streaming services like BBC iPlayer and ITV Player mean you can watch a lot of television online almost as soon as it's been aired (you'll still need a TV licence though), while companies like Netflix and LoveFilm charge monthly subscription fees for access to a wealth of movies and television.

 

Landline and Broadband Bundles

If you're looking at broadband-only deals then you may still have to take the cost of a landline into account. Virgin cable broadband (Virgin's fibre optic service) removes the need for a landline, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the cheapest option, or the right one for you - consider your needs and the other deals on the market.

You may not necessarily need a landline, but the difference in cost between broadband only and a bundled broadband and phone service may be so negligible that it's worth taking advantage of.


Things to consider when looking for student broadband

Speed

Your broadband speed affects how quickly web pages load, the speed at which you can download music, TV and films and how well you can stream. If you or your housemates are heavy internet users then it might be worth your while going for unlimited usage.

This could mean you need a higher speed than the average household. In that situation, you might want to consider fibre optic broadband. The speed advertised isn't necessarily the speed you get - by the time an ADSL connection has travelled through copper wires to your house, some speed may be lost.

There are many factors that determine your internet speed, including the quality of your wiring and how close you are to the telephone exchange, so 'up to 50Mbps' means just that.

It's been said that you can calculate the true speed of your service by dividing the number of housemates you'll be sharing with by the speed on offer. So if your service delivers a speed of 30Mbps and you're sharing with four people, your actual speed could be more like 7.5Mbps.

To assess exactly what speed your student household may need, take a broadband speed test in your current home to see what your existing speed is and whether this will be sufficient enough in your student home. 


Unlimited versus capped

Deciding whether you need an unlimited broadband data allowance or a capped policy is something that only you and your household can decide, depending on your circumstances, budget and needs.

If you or your housemates are heavy internet users then it might be worth choosing a deal that offers unlimited usage. However, if you're vigilant about how much you download then a fixed broadband limit could be a more cost-effective option.