Money’s tight when you’re a student. But the good news you can at least save some cash by signing up for a special student-friendly broadband deal. Here we take a look at what’s available and help you pick the right provider at the right price.
Choosing a student broadband deal
Student life usually means sharing a home, sometimes with as many as five or six housemates. That means you’ll need a broadband service that can handle the demands of a busy household.
The best way to ensure you get one is to start by considering these factors:
Multiple occupancy homes inevitably means there’ll be lots of people going on online simultaneously. For that reason, your best bet is superfast fibre optic broadband that’ll be able to handle the demands you put on it.
As a rule of thumb, if you’ve got three-four people in your shared home you’ll need a speed between 11Mbps-35Mbps.
Homes with five or more occupants will require a speed of 35Mbps or above.
If you’re living alone or with one other person, you can probably get by with a speed of 10Mbps. So you won’t need fibre and can save a bit of cash with a cheaper standard broadband deal.
But be mindful that the window to buy these is fairly short. They’re typically available for a few months prior to the start of the new academic year.
Conversely, if you’re planning to stick around in your student accommodation during the summer months, you’ll want a 12-month contract.
But in the event that only some of your housemates are staying in your student home, make sure you come to an arrangement over who’s responsible for paying for broadband during the holiday period.
Do you want TV too?
Expensive pay-TV sport from BT Sport and Sky Sports is a lot more affordable when you’re splitting the cost between three or four people.
If you’re on a budget or just want to watch the odd Premier League game, you can sign up for Now TV Sport passes. These are available for one-day, one-week and one-month.
Now TV also offers one-month Movies and Entertainment Passes, which work out at pennies per month between a few of you.
Split the cost of a Netflix subscription and you’ve got more than enough entertainment. And for not outlay either.
Price and set-up costs
If you plump for a top-of-the-range superfast fibre service and TV package with a state-of-the-art set top box, make sure you do your sums to ensure you can afford it.
It’s well worth looking out for free gifts and voucher giveaways are fairly common on 12-month contracts from household-name providers, too.
But you’re unlikely to get the same enticements if you go for a nine-month contract.
Very few providers impose usage limits these days. But just in case, check that you’re getting an unlimited deal that won’t restrict how much you use the internet.
As you’d expect, lots of internet users in a shared house means you’ll rapidly use up your allowance if you’re on a ‘limited’ deal.
That’ll mean you could get hit with an unexpected and expensive bill for any data you use beyond your limit.
Can I get no-contract student broadband?
Although not specifically aimed at students, no-contract broadband is available from Virgin Media, Now Broadband and Hyperoptic.
The best thing with no-contract broadband, which is also known as one-month contract broadband, is that you’re free to leave with 30 days’ notice.
But you pay a price for that freedom, in the form of higher monthly premiums than if you’d signed up for a longer-term contract.
You’ll also need to weigh up any set-up costs and the price of equipment, such as a router, if you’re only going to be using the service for a few months.
Which providers offer nine-month student broadband?
Money-saving, student-friendly broadband on a nine-month contract is available from BT and Virgin Media, all of whom offer fast, reliable broadband. But which is best depends on your needs.
BT – BT's fibre broadband deals are ideal for a student house. BT Sport gets you live Premier League and Champions League games and compares well to Sky Sports for cost.
Virgin Media – The UK’s fastest widely available broadband will handle the demands of the busiest student homes. But you’ll have to be in area covered by Virgin Media’s cable network to get it.
Is mobile broadband a good alternative to home broadband for students?
Mobile broadband can be a decent alternative to fixed-line home broadband. Not least because you won’t have to pay for a landline.
Mobile broadband also offers the advantage of being able to take your broadband service with you when you leave for the holidays.
However, usage limits with mobile broadband tend to be a lot more restrictive than standard fixed line broadband package.
So if you’re a heavy user or you live in a household of heavy users, you could find you end up paying for extra allowance. Which can get fairly expensive, fairly quickly.
Unlimited mobile broadband deals are available. But your monthly outlay will be higher than if you’d opted for an unlimited fixed line broadband package with similar speeds.