Student Broadband

Broadband packages ideal for student households

There's a lot to consider when finding and moving into student housing. Signing up for an appropriate broadband package that meets your needs and your budget can be a daunting task. There are a number of factors that you might need to take into account. We've put together this guide to help you out.

Student Broadband Buyers Guide

Students rely on internet access. Be it registering for courses, receiving important news via email, downloading course content, researching your subject or submitting coursework, much of your work takes place online. Combine this with your usual online activity and social networking, and it becomes vital that you have a good Internet connection available in your digs.

What to look for in student broadband

When signing up for student broadband, make sure you get the right kind of deal.

There are three main things to look out for when choosing your package:

  • Fixed line broadband - As a general rule, fixed line broadband (through your telephone line or via cable) is superior to mobile broadband for speed, usage allowance, responsiveness (latency) and reliability. This is especially true in shared households like the average student house. It's also a lot cheaper.
  • Short or no contract - Look out for the shortest, or most appropriate, contract length. Some providers offer broadband with no contract, some have special nine month deals for students, and some have 12 month deals that can actually be as, if not more, affordable. Avoid anything longer.
  • The right speed - The speed you need depends on the number of people in your house, and what they will be using the internet for. Faster is better, obviously, but perhaps more important is a package without monthly download limits.

This guide will focus mostly on fixed line broadband. However, you can skip ahead to our mobile broadband section if you do wish to explore the alternative.

Also, the nine month student offers may only be available for a limited time, but don't worry - there are plenty of no contract or 12 month deals to choose from instead.

Affordable student deals

Some of the biggest names in broadband have special deals for students that they run towards the end of the Summer until the end of October. Deals are now over for this academic year, but if you're still looking for broadband then there are regular short and no contract offers you can explore below.

No contract broadband

For unrivalled flexibilty some providers offer broadband without a contract. Your deal automatically renews each month, and you can cancel at any time.

One month, no contract deals are not student specials, anyone can sign up. You'll typically pay a little more than you would on a 12 month contract, but if you only want the service for eight or nine months then you should come out ahead. There are sereral providers offering no contract broadband:

  • TenTel has very affordable standard broadband deals with speeds up to 17Mb. There's a one-off connection fee, or you can waive that by signing up to a six month contract instead. Keep an eye out for usage limits, especially on the cheapest offers.
  • NOW TV runs on Sky's broadband network and bundles a TV pass - including Sky Sports or Sky Cinema - into the price. There's an up to 38Mb fibre option, too.
  • The no contract deals from Direct Save are all up to 17Mb standard broadband, and the cheapest come with monthly download limits, so may not be suitable for shared households. There are unlimited options, and they come with the Direct Save Discount Card which can save you money at many major retailers.
  • Zen Internet has a few standard broadband deals with rolling contracts, although some come with download limits and you may also experience slower speeds during peak hours. Zen are highly rated but can be more expensive, so are only worth considering if you can afford the extra.

Rolling contracts like these often have one-off set up fee, and in some cases the price might go up after a year. As such, they're not the right option if you do want something more long term.

Short contracts

A 12 month contract is not ideal if you're moving out of your student accommodation after nine months. But some deals are so attractive that they can work as cheaper.

If you're tearing it up in Magaluf next summer, you don't want to still be paying for broadband at the student digs you no longer live in. However, some introductory offers are cheap enough that you can get a year's broadband for a very low rate, sometimes only paying line rental.

As these aren't student specials, we recommend using our coverage checker to see what packages are available in your area and then finding the right combination of price and length to suit your needs. Here are some options to get you started:

Other providers, including EE and John Lewis, also offer 12 month contracts on standard or fibre broadband.

What speed broadband do you need for your shared house?

There's a good chance you'll find yourself living with a group of other people at uni, all wanting to stream, download and game at the same time.

A slower, cheaper connection might be good enough for a couple of people in a household, depending on usage. Even when one housemate is downloading or streaming on a slower connection the others may notice a slowdown. More importantly, the cheapest deals often have download limits and it's hard to imagine these being suitable for any student household - you'll burn through your allowance in no time.

Fibre is the better option, then, which is also more expensive. Fortunately, a shared internet connection also means a shared broadband bill, and the more expensive packages often come with attractive introductory offers to sweeten the deal.

Check out our guide to what broadband speed you need to find the most suitable package, and if you're confused by all the different types of 'unlimited' being thrown around by the providers our guide to unlimited broadband explains it all for you.

Gaming

If you like to de-stress over the evening and weekends with a few hours of online gaming, you're going to need a broadband package that can deal with that.

You want a reliable speed, a decent usage allowance, and a connection that isn't going to keep dropping your game during peak hours when everyone is online. However, you might be surprised to find not all games need a superfast connection, and even a 2Mb connection is plenty to play games.

Virgin Media offers the fastest connections in any area with no traffic management on its fastest deals. These include a specialist Gamer package, although it's only available on an 18 month contract so is unlikely to be suitable for students. Also look at TalkTalk, Sky and Plusnet's unlimited packages, which mean you won't use up any usage allowances while playing.

Bundles

You can often save money by adding a calls package to your broadband, and if you want to push the boat out some providers will let you add premium TV channels too.

You've got a mobile, so why would you want to add landline calls? Well, all but Virgin Media's fixed line broadband require a landline to supply the broadband service anyway, and many suppliers offer phone packages with unlimited free calls during certain hours. Many providers also offer a substantial discount on line rental if you pay for a year up front. However, this may not be ideal for many students as it does tie customers into a one year contract.

If your landlord allows you to change your call plan or line rental supplier, it's likely that a bundle deal that includes a phone package works out to be better value than taking broadband on its own. Some providers, such as TalkTalk, will give you the option to take out a no-calls bundle, where you only pay for the calls you make, so you're not paying extra for a call package you're not going to use. Other providers - for example, Virgin Media - also have bundle deals that include television packages. Just remember that line rental isn't usually quoted up front in the prices for these providers, but this is usually cheaper than line rental from BT.

If you want to add TV as well, there's a good chance you'll find it cheaper if you buy it as part of your broadband service. Sky, Virgin Media, BT and NOW TV are among the providers that offer these deals. You can also subscribe to NOW TV's streaming service separately.

The following deals all have contracts of 9 months or less, 40GB or more usage and should offer some of the best performance in areas where they're available.

If you're a solo light user or are unsure which providers are available near you, use our Ofcom accredited price comparison calculator to compare broadband in your area, or you could skip to the Mobile Broadband section of this guide.

Don't forget, these tables are sortable, so you can prioritise results by contract length, expected speeds and download allowance.

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Monthly Cost  
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Reliability  
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TenTel Hello Broadband 40 More Info

No contract option available + free connection
Watch streaming services on your TV with an optional Roku device from £24.99!
Add a call plan to your package from only £2.50 a month!

802.11n Wireless RouterPhone CallingLine Rental

2.5 stars
up to
17Mb
40GB 6
months
£255 £19.49
£22.99 after 6 months

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TenTel Hello Broadband Unlimited More Info

No contract option available + free connection
Watch streaming services on your TV with an optional Roku device from £24.99!
Add a call plan to your package from only £2.50 a month!

802.11n Wireless RouterPhone CallingLine Rental

2.5 stars
up to
17Mb
truly
unlimited
6
months
£309 £22.49
£28.99 after 6 months

Go to site
Plusnet Unlimited Broadband and Phone More Info

Hurry, ends soon! 12 months reduced price!
Add Evenings & Weekends for £4 a month, or Unlimited calls for £8 a month!

802.11n Wireless RouterPhone CallingLine Rental

3 stars
up to
17Mb
unlimited 1
month
£326 £22.99
£30.48 after 12 months

£50.00 upfront cost

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Hyperoptic 100Mb Fibre Broadband + Phone More Info

Special offer: free HyperHub wireless router
100Mb upload speeds!
Add AnyTime calls for £3 a month, or International calls for £5 a month!

802.11n Wireless RouterPhone CallingLine Rental

4 stars
up to
100Mb
truly
unlimited
1
month
£532 £41.00

£40.00 upfront cost

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Hyperoptic 20Mb Fibre Broadband More Info

Special offer: free HyperHub wireless router
1Mb upload speeds

802.11n Wireless Router

4 stars
up to
20Mb
truly
unlimited
1
month
£328 £24.00

£40.00 upfront cost

Go to site
Hyperoptic 100Mb Fibre Broadband More Info

Special offer: free HyperHub wireless router
100Mb upload speeds!

802.11n Wireless Router

4 stars
up to
100Mb
truly
unlimited
1
month
£496 £38.00

£40.00 upfront cost

Go to site
Hyperoptic 1Gb Fibre Broadband + Phone More Info

Special offer: free HyperHub wireless router
1Gb upload speeds!
Add AnyTime calls for £3 a month, or International calls for £5 a month!

802.11n Wireless RouterPhone CallingLine Rental

4 stars
up to
1Gb
truly
unlimited
1
month
£844 £67.00

£40.00 upfront cost

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Hyperoptic 1Gb Fibre Broadband More Info

Special offer: free HyperHub wireless router
1Gb upload speeds!

802.11n Wireless Router

4 stars
up to
1Gb
truly
unlimited
1
month
£808 £64.00

£40.00 upfront cost

Go to site
Plusnet Unlimited More Info

802.11n Wireless Router

3 stars
up to
17Mb
unlimited 1
month
£336
plus line
rental costs
£22.99
Separate line rental required

£60.00 upfront cost

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  • ICON KEY
  • Wireless Router
  • 802.11n Wireless Router
  • 802.11ac Wireless Router
  • Phone Calling
  • Television Service
  • Line Rental
Broadband.co.uk

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband is a way to connect to the internet using mobile phone networks. This is usually done by using a USB modem or dongle plugged into your computer, or via a Personal Wi-Fi unit.

In an area of good coverage, 4G mobile broadband can be as fast as a fixed line fibre connection. Its portability also gives it a major advantage - you can use it in your student accommodation, in lectures, coffee shops, and you can take it home at the end of term. It can be useful to supplement a fixed line broadband service as a backup in case of your main internet connection going down, or simply if you need to do something important while your housemates are busy gaming or streaming video.

As it's not tied to any particular location, you don't have to worry so much about being tied into longer contracts, and if you're only an occasional user you can even take a pay as you go service and only pay for usage when you need it. If you're a very light internet user and just need access for emails and browsing websites, mobile broadband may even be the sole broadband solution for you.

However, there are downsides to mobile broadband. First, it's comparatively expensive and comes with download limits that mean it isn't a truly viable alternative to fixed broadband. Once you've used up your data limit for the month any excess data is charged at a much higher rate.

And while it's fast where there's good coverage - and there should be in most urban areas - the performance can drop off considerably where coverage is not so strong. If coverage is a problem your connection will drop down to older 3G+ speeds, or even slower, which are not really suited to much more than basic web browsing.

While it can work if you have no other options, mobile broadband is best regarded as a complement to fixed broadband rather than a replacment for it.