How can students find the best broadband deal?
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.
What should we look out for when choosing a student broadband package?
When you’re comparing broadband deals for your student house, there are several key considerations, 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. Worth considering.
- Set-up time – it will take some time from order to installation, typically two weeks , so 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 very important to you, there are providers – like Virgin Media and BT– who offer nine-month contracts. You’ll often find yourself paying more per month for these services, though.
In theory, short-term deals should mean cheaper ones overall. And if you’re a student, having a nine-month contract, as opposed to 12-18 months, may well be of interest. But it’s worth remembering that many providers offer incentives to get you to sign up for 12-18 months – these can include free services or reduced price services for a period of time – so it’s a good idea to use our comparison service to review all your options.
If price is your deciding factor, it may work out ch eaper 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.
What about rolling monthly broadband contracts for our shared accommodation?
Rolling broadband contracts 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 and NOW are among the providers who offer 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.
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 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.
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.Compare broadband providers
Frequently asked questions
Can we get a TV subscription as part of our student broadband deal?
If you have TV bingers and football 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.
Another option is a NOW broadband and TV bundle, which is available on a one-month, rolling contract.
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, you can get ultrafast speeds of over 100Mbps.
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 anyone named on the account could be negatively affected.
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 can sometimes be worth getting a router with a bit more oomph, or WiFi extenders that will make your signal travel further.
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.