How to find the best student broadband deals for you
Fast, smooth broadband is an essential for most of us. But if you’re a student who lives in shared accommodation, getting the broadband you need could be a little trickier as you’ll need to find student WiFi deals that suit housemates with different broadband needs.
To find the best student broadband package for you, you should:
- Choose a deal that gives you the download speed you need for a busy student household.
- Be aware that nine-month student broadband deals can often cost more than standard 12 and 18-month broadband contracts.
- Consider 30-day rolling deals that offer flexibility without being tied to a long contract.
- Compare broadband deals to see which one offers great value for your student digs.
Shopping around on a comparison site like Compare the Market is a good idea as you’ll be able to see what deals are available for the postcode of your student house.
What is student broadband?
Student broadband is a package specifically designed for student needs.
Student digs typically have different needs compared to the average household. If there are a few of you sharing, you’ll be splitting bills between you and it’s likely that multiple people will be using the internet at the same time. You might also have shorter tenancies to match the academic year.
With this in mind, some providers offer more flexible broadband packages for students. For example, some offer 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 a good value broadband deal that can also cope with the demands of a busy student household.
What should you look out for when choosing internet for students?
When looking for the best broadband deals for your student house, there are a few factors to consider. You’ll have to weigh up cost against convenience and speed. Think about:
- 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.
- Will the WiFi reach everywhere? Some homes have WiFi deadspots, so what happens if the WiFi is dodgy in some rooms? Some providers offer guarantees and signal boosters.
- Do you want fibre? If you have access to fibre broadband, you could get broadband speeds of 30-300Mbps (megabits per second) or more. Great for streaming HD video, gaming and several users with multiple devices – but it’s more expensive and not available everywhere.
- Whether you’ll need an active phone line – most deals still need you to have a landline at your property, although there’s a growing number of offers that don’t depend on a phone connection. Find out more about getting broadband without line rental.
- Value for money – although some contracts are for nine months, they may not always work out to be value for money compared with 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, but it could be longer. 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 avoid worrying about usage limits. An unlimited data allowance will prevent you from paying extra data charges. All the deals available through Compare the Market offer unlimited data.
When sorting out your broadband there a couple of admin tasks you’ll need to consider too:
- You’ll need a ‘.ac.uk’ email address to be eligible for some student deals.
- Will your landlord need to agree any new wiring that is installed, if you’re not using an existing line?
- 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 every month.
- 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.
Which type of student broadband contract is right for me?
The type of student 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 summer holidays.
Nine-month contract deals are typically only available a few months before the start of the academic year from a small number of providers.
If you’re planning to stay in your student accommodation year-round, it might be better value to take out a longer 12-month WiFi student broadband contract – this is the norm for home broadband, so you’ll also have more deals to choose from. Don’t forget to account for any installation fees you may be charged.
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. 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. For example, Virgin Media usually offers its rolling one-month student contracts in the summer. But while the contract can keep rolling happily on, you typically can’t start one later in the year.
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.
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. This uses a mobile dongle device or MiFi portable router to generate a 4G or 5G internet connection, and it could be useful if you regularly work on the train, in the park or anywhere else on the go. 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. Speeds could be slow compared with fibre broadband though so may not be great for gamers.
To sum it all up: the best thing to do is take a bit of time to do your sums and consider your needs. Compare different types of contracts and think about which one would work best for you and your housemates.
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 may be better off paying more for ultrafast fibre broadband – if it’s available at your address.
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:
- Contract length
You may 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 installation fees and 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 student WiFi 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
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.
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.
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Frequently asked questions
Can we get a TV subscription as part of our student broadband deal?
Yes, if you have TV bingers and sport fans in your student house, look out for broadband deals with an entertainment and sports package built in. Pay TV can be a lot more affordable when you’re splitting the cost between a few of you, and all-in-one broadband and TV bundles might offer better value.
You’ll be able to mix and match plans, 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 a nine-month student deal?
Yes, potentially. In recent years, the big providers have introduced more flexible broadband deals aimed at those living in shared accommodation and students who usually go home during the summer months.
If flexibility is important to you, there are providers who offer nine-month contracts. The downside is that they might cost more overall than a standard 12 to 18-month contract.
Also, 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, see if it’s cheaper to pay for the entire period or pay a cancellation fee on a 12-month contract. This may still be better than taking out a short-term specialist package.
What speeds do we need for student broadband?
It depends on how you use your broadband. If there are more than three of you using devices, 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. 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.
What can I do if I don’t get the speed I was promised?
If your service doesn’t deliver the speeds you were promised by your provider, when you signed up for your contract, get in touch with them. If the problem is on their network and they can’t fix it within 30 days, they must let you leave your contract without having to pay an early exit fee.
Can we get a student discount for broadband?
Potentially, yes. 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. But you should weigh up whether the discount and the package is right for you.
Whose name goes on the bill?
It’s up to you to decide. 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.
Having your name on a bill can help build up your credit score too if the bill is always paid on time and in full. To make it 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 everyone 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. It’s a good idea to improve your credit score, if you can in the run up to moving into a shared house.
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 fibre or 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?
Typically it can take up to 14 days for broadband installations with a dedicated phone line, but it may be longer in some areas. 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?
Plug your router into the main phone socket, if possible. Ideally routers should be installed in a central position, on a shelf or table, not the floor. Keep it away from:
- Devices that emit wireless signals
- Halogen lamps
- Dimmer switches
- Stereo or computer speakers
- Fairy lights
- TVs and monitors.
If you’re experiencing slow speeds, run a broadband speed test. You’ll be shown both your download and upload speeds. Test it in different rooms and on different devices to see where the problems lie.
If the speed you’re getting is much slower than the one you were quoted, contact your provider for help.
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.”
- Sajni Shah, Utilities comparison expert
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Sajni Shah - Consumer expert on utilities and money
Sajni is passionate about building products, allowing Compare the Market to help you make great financial decisions. She keeps track of the latest trends and evolving markets to find new ways to help you save money.