Student broadband deals

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Student broadband

Fast, smooth broadband has become an essential for most of us. But if you’re a student who lives in shared accommodation, getting the broadband you need can be a little trickier, as you’ll have to find a deal that suits people with varying broadband needs.

At a glance

  • Choose a deal that gives you the download speed you need for a busy student household 
  • Nine-month student broadband deals can often cost more than standard 12 and 18-month broadband contracts 
  • 30-day rolling deals offer flexibility without being tied to a long contract  
  • Compare broadband deals to see which one offers great value for your student digs.

What is student broadband?

It's a broadband package specifically aimed at students. Student digs typically have different needs to the average household. If there are a few of you sharing, you’ll be splitting bills between you, and there’s likely to be more people using the internet at the same time. You’ll also want to consider your tenancy. Most students go home during the holidays, so you might only need broadband during term time.  

With this in mind, some providers offer more flexible broadband packages for students - for example, nine-month deals that start at the beginning of the academic year and finish in time for the summer holidays.  

There are also 30-day rolling contracts that you can renew on an as-need basis – you won’t be locked into a long-term contract or have penalty fees to worry about if you cancel. This could be handy if you change digs or aren’t sure how things will pan out during the term.  

Money can be tight as a student, so you’ll want to find the best value broadband deal that can also cope with the demands of a busy student household.  

What should you look out for when choosing a student broadband package?

When comparing broadband deals for your student house, there’s a few things to think about, including: 

  • Broadband download speed – you’ll need a speed fast enough for the demands of your home. If you have access to fibre broadband,  you could get superfast broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps (megabits per second) and ultrafast speeds of 300Mbps or more. Great for streaming HD video, gaming and browsing online.
  • Value – although some contracts are for nine months (making them ideal for short-term use), they may not always work out to be the best value for money compared to 12-18 month contracts. There are also ‘no contract’ broadband deals, which are monthly rolling contracts where you just need to give 30 days’ notice.
  • Set-up time – it will take some time from order to installation - typically two weeks. It’s best to get this booked early so your broadband is ready for when you move in.
  • Data allowance or download limit – you’ll probably want to use the internet freely without worrying about usage limits. An unlimited data allowance will prevent you from getting stung with extra data charges. Most broadband deals are now unlimited anyway, but make sure you check before committing to anything.

Can we get a nine-month student deal?

Yes. In recent years, the big providers have introduced more flexible broadband deals aimed at those living in shared accommodation and students who will usually go home during the summer months.  
If flexibility is important to you, there are providers – such as Virgin Media and BT – who offer nine-month contracts. The downside is, they can often cost more overall than a standard 12 to 18-month contract.  

It's also worth remembering that many providers offer incentives to get you to sign up for 12-18 months. These can include free set-up costs, gift cards and reward cards, so it’s worth using our comparison service to review all your options.

If price is your deciding factor, it may work out cheaper to pay for the entire period or pay a cancellation fee on a 12-month contract, rather than taking out a short-term specialist package.

Which providers offer nine-month deals? 

BT and Virgin Media both offer nine-month contract deals specifically for students. However, the window for these deals can be quite short – they’re typically only available a few months before the start of the academic year.

What about rolling monthly broadband contracts for our shared accommodation?

Rolling broadband contracts, also known as no contract broadband give you flexibility, as they don’t tie you in to a fixed term and allow you to cancel (with notice) whenever you want – handy if you’re not always using your student accommodation. Virgin Media currently offers one-month contracts.  

The downside to this type of deal is that it usually costs more each month than a longer-term contract. You’ll also need to think about any set-up fees and the cost of a router if you’re only going to be using the service for a few months.  

What about mobile broadband for students?

Another option if you don’t want to be tied to a long contract, is mobile broadband. This uses a mobile dongle device or MiFi portable router to generate a 4G or 5G internet connection, and can be useful if you regularly work on the train, in the park or anywhere else on the go. Speeds can be slow compared with fibre broadband though, and it won’t be suitable for heavy internet users and gamers.

What else is there to consider with student broadband?

There are a few other important things to think about before you decide on a broadband deal:  

  • What you’ll use the internet for – will people in your household watch a lot of Netflix, stream music or play video games? If you’re going to spend hours downloading and streaming content, you’ll need to make sure your broadband speed is up to it.
  • You may need an active phone line – most deals still need you to have a landline at your property, although there are a growing number of offers that don’t depend on a phone connection. Find out more about getting broadband without line rental.
  • Someone will need to be in – providers often give ‘windows of time’ for installation, so one of you will need to be there when the service is being set up.
  • Bills from the provider are usually in one person’s name – you’ll need to decide who’s going to be responsible for the bills and any set-up costs, then share paying for them equally. Alternatively, you could set up a joint ‘bills’ account for everyone to pay into on a monthly basis.

Which type of broadband contract is right for me?

The type of broadband contract you choose depends on your situation.  

  • If you’re only at uni during term time, a nine-month contract could be good value, as you don’t have to pay for internet you’re not using during the holidays.  
  • If you’re planning to stay in your student accommodation year-round, it might be better value to take out a longer 12 or 18-month broadband contract – this is the norm for home broadband, so you’ll also have more deals to choose from.  
  • If you’re not sure where you’ll be in a few months, a 30-day rolling contract might be the answer, as you’re not tied to a long-term contract, and you have the freedom to move as you wish.
  • If you want to do your own thing, and not tie yourself into contracts with your housemates or pay for a landline you’ll never use, mobile broadband might be worth considering. You can also take it with you when you leave for the holidays. Just be aware that mobile deals often have data restrictions, so if you’re a heavy user, there’s more risk of you going over your limit and paying a hefty sum for extra allowance.  

The best thing to do is take a bit of time to do your sums. Compare different types of contracts and think about which one would work best for you. Just remember, the cheapest deal might not be right for you if it doesn’t offer the broadband capabilities and speed you need. For example, if you’re a heavy gamer in a houseful of gamers, you might be better off paying more for ultrafast fibre broadband - If it’s available at your address - and saving your student funds in other ways.

How can students find a cheap broadband deal?

The best way to find a broadband deal that suits the needs of all your household is to use a comparison site like Compare the Market. You’ll be able to filter your search for speed, contract length and price. You might also want to look at bundled deals that include TV and landline phone calls.  

And there’s nothing to say you must choose a dedicated student package. You might find a 12 or 18-month home broadband deal that offers better value. Just make sure you factor in any cancellation fees if you break the contract early.  

To find out what deals are available, simply enter the postcode for your student accommodation below, and we’ll show you what’s on offer.

Go to broadband postcode checker

How can I compare broadband deals for students and shared accommodation?

We’ve made comparing broadband deals for student houses and shared accommodation really simple. We have a wide range available, so start a quote with our comparison service and see how much you could save now.

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About Comparethemarket

We know comparing insurance and utilities isn’t much fun. So at Comparethemarket it’s all about keeping it simple. We do all the legwork to help you find the right product for you at the right price. And you can trust us to be impartial – we make money when you switch or take out a new product, so it’s in our interests to help you make the right choice. 

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How we work

Helping you compare 

Before you compare with us, you can use our broadband speed checker to find out what speed you’re currently getting. That way, when you compare you’ll know to look for a faster speed, or one that at least matches what you already get. 

Our comparison tool shows you a selection of deals available in your area from big-name and smaller broadband providers. You can filter to match what you want in terms of broadband speed, contract length, phone and TV options and cost. 

And remember, all the deals we show you come with unlimited data. 

Broadband guides 

You’ll find a wealth of information on all aspects of broadband in our handy guides – from broadband for gamers, to MiFi to VoIP. You can also find out how to choose the right broadband package, and get the lowdown on different types of connection, like ADSL and fibre. If you have any questions, it’s easy to find answers in our help centre. 

How we make money 

When you start a broadband package that you go through us, the provider pays a fee to our partner Stickee Technologies Limited.  

Frequently asked questions

Can we get a TV subscription as part of our student broadband deal?

If you have TV bingers and sport fans in your student accommodation, look out for broadband deals with an entertainment and sports package. Pay TV is a lot more affordable when you’re splitting the cost between a few of you, and all-in-one broadband and TV bundles could give you the best overall value. You’ll be able to mix and match plans to get exactly what you want, as well as access streaming services, smart TV apps and films on demand – all the entertainment you need for a big night in with your mates. 

By bundling your services together, you’ll also only have one bill to worry about each month. A word of caution though – most TV packages will lock you into a contract of at least 18 months, so you’ll need to be prepared to make a long-term commitment.

Can we get broadband without a phone line?

You can get broadband without a phone line, but it won’t necessarily be cheaper. This is because ADSL and Fibre to Cabinet (FTTC) connections need a phone line to connect the broadband to your property, and the line rental is automatically included in the price.

Fibre to Premises (FTTP) connections can be a lot faster, and you won’t need a phone line. But they are often more expensive. There are also fewer options to choose from.

When you compare with us, we’ll automatically show you all broadband deals, with and without  a phone line, although those with a phone line are usually the best value. If you want to compare the difference to ‘broadband-only’ deals, simply choose ‘deals without a phone line’ in the filter options.

What speeds do we need for student broadband?

Living in shared accommodation inevitably means there’ll be lots of you going online at the same time. If there’s more than three of you, this will quickly eat up bandwidth. Whether you’re streaming music, gaming, watching catch-up TV or researching your latest essay, you’ll soon get frustrated if your connection slows down or even worse, drops out completely. So it’s important you have broadband with a download speed that’s fast enough to cope with the demands of your household.  

For that reason, you may be better off with superfast fibre broadband, which offers average speeds of around 60-67Mbps . If you’re willing to pay a bit more each month, and it’s available at your address, you can get ultrafast speeds of over 100Mbps.

How can I check the broadband speed for my student accommodation?

You can easily check your broadband upload and download speeds with our broadband speed checker. You’ll be able to see the average speeds each provider offers at a certain address but will need to be in the property to see the exact speed you’ll get.

Can we get a student discount for broadband?

A small number of providers, including Virgin Media and BT, do offer broadband deals tailored towards students, but they’re not always available, and the window of opportunity to buy them might not last long. Student deals are often only around for a few months before the start of the new academic year in September.

Whose name goes on the bill?

Your broadband provider will usually want the contract to be in one person’s name, so you’ll need to agree on who’s responsible for making sure your bills are paid on time and then work out who owes what.  

To make this easier, you could download a bill-splitting app or set up a joint bank account for everyone to pay into. Bear in mind that there is an element of risk with a joint account, though. If one of you fails to make your contribution for a bill payment on time, the credit score of everyoe named on the account could be negatively affected.

Can we get broadband without a credit check?

Some providers offer broadband deals without the need for a credit check. These include NOW, Plusnet and BT’s Basic broadband. Even if you have to undergo a credit check, it won’t be as strict as applying for a credit card or loan.

That said, it’s a good idea to keep your credit rating healthy if you can – it might give you access to more deals. Find out how to improve your credit score.

What equipment is needed for student broadband?

Almost every broadband deal will include a free WiFi router to support all your devices and, if it’s not free, there’ll only be a one-off charge. You’ll also need a working phone line, unless you’ve opted for broadband without a landline.

If you live in a big student house with WiFi ‘black spots’, it might be worth getting a router with a bit more oomph, or WiFi extenders that will make your signal travel further.

How long does broadband installation take?

Waiting times for broadband installations with a dedicated landline can be up to 14 days. Some fibre installations without a phone line are quicker. Ultimately, it depends on whether an engineer has to come out or if anything needs activating. Your provider should be able to give you a time frame when you sign up for your deal.

Can we cancel our broadband contract?

Once you take out a broadband contract, you’ll have the right to cancel within the first 14 days without having to pay a penalty.

After that, you’ll most likely be charged a fee if you want to cancel before your contract’s up. Check how much it is though, as in some cases the early cancellation fee could still be worth paying if you want to switch to a better deal.

How can we get the best WiFi signal in a big student house?

Weak or erratic WiFi signals can be a common problem in student accommodation, especially in large, old townhouses where it struggles to reach all parts of the property. But there are things you can do to boost the speed.  

Firstly, it’s a good idea to run a broadband speed test to establish just how fast your internet is. You’ll be shown both your download and upload speeds. If you test it in different rooms of the house and on different devices, you can see where the problems lie.  

It may just be a case of moving your router to a more central position, away from walls, doors and bookcases. You should also keep it away from computer speakers, cordless phones and other devices that emit wireless signals. If possible, place your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor, and keep it switched on. 

Failing that, if the speed you’re getting is much slower than the one you were quoted, contact your provider for help. 

Why use Comparethemarket?

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[1] As of January 2023 Compare the Market had an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 from 23,670 people who left a review on Trustpilot. The score 4.8 corresponds to the Star Label ‘Excellent’.

Author image Sofia Hutson

What our expert says...

If you’re sharing a house with five or six people, broadband speed is a big deciding factor. There’s no point opting for the cheapest deal if the broadband service can’t cope with the demands of a large student household. 

With all of you pitching in, it’s easier to spread the cost, and find a great deal for less money per person.

- Sofia Hutson, Digital expert