A guide to student broadband
When it comes to choosing a student broadband package, there’s a whole bunch of criteria to consider, including speed, cost and length of contract, never mind the particular requirements of individual housemates who are keen gamers or video editors. Christian from comparison site, Broadband.co.uk gives tips on how to get the best broadband deal for your student house.
Photo by JESHOOTS at Pexels
If you’re moving into new accommodation, you’ll no doubt be looking for a good broadband package. It needs to be fast, affordable, and preferably come with perks. Here are some pointers on what to consider and where to look.
Broadband speed – which is the fastest provider?
Online gamers, streamers, and media editors need super-fast internet speeds. But which is the fastest provider in your area? The choice is typically between Virgin Media and the BT Openreach telephone network, which most mainstream providers (EE, Vodafone, etc.) share. The BT Openreach network has the widest coverage, but Virgin Media tends to offer faster speeds. In some areas, there’s also the option of full fibre broadband, which can provide speeds of 1Gbps+, though coverage currently remains relatively patchy.
Of course, with great speed comes greater prices. Generally speaking, faster connections are more expensive, but some providers can give you good value. The acceptable minimum is entry-level fibre, around 30Mbps, which should suit standard quality streaming in a small household.
Housemates with gaming hobbies or keen on downloading will typically need more speed. A rule of thumb is to base calculations on 10Mbps per person, then add another 10Mpbs for each person with demanding online needs.
Remember: you will pay more for faster speeds, but in some locations, super-fast broadband may not be available. Do your research to avoid disappointment.
Cost – which is the cheapest provider?
If your budget is tight and your housemates can sacrifice their internet speed, cheaper broadband providers are available. Good value for money can be found from providers like NOW, Shell, and Plusnet. Direct Save is a good option too, and Vodafone has some attractive budget options.
Contract length will be an important consideration, as it is unlikely that your student house will be occupied all year long. If available, opt for a 9-month contract, or specialist student contract – Virgin Media usually offers these. In cases where a short contract is not available, opt for the next best thing, which is usually 12 months. Rolling monthly contracts are available, but they always demand a set-up fee and are more expensive in all cases.
The best outcome money-wise is to find the cheapest deal available for basic online shopping, social media, and emails, then bump up mobile internet speeds if possible, for individual requirements.
Perks & free gifts
When you’re considering a particular broadband internet deal, check to see if the provider is offering any useful, relevant perks. These might be free gifts, gift cards, or vouchers. Over the years, we’ve seen prepaid credit cards, bill credits (reducing the overall price of the contract) and free tech like consoles, tablets and even TVs.
If things still seem expensive, consider other ways of reducing the cost. Assuming everyone in your household has a mobile phone, you can probably skip the landline. If TV isn’t required because shared viewing isn’t something you do, then a streaming box is another option that can be factored out (although this might result in slightly higher speed requirements).
Another way to cut costs overall is to take a mobile phone deal with the provider. This can often result in a loyalty bonus that will reduce either or both deals.
Be organised, get the best deal
Shopping around using comparison sites is the best way to find a deal to suit everyone in your accommodation. Larger houses with more people typically have a more demanding internet requirement. This is where fast broadband from Virgin or a full fibre connection are most suited.
Otherwise, for a smaller house with just a few occupants, you could consider a slower, affordable connection. If you can match up a great deal with useful perks, you’re onto a winner.
Just be sure that your household agrees before signing up and committing to a deal you can all afford.
About the Author
Christian has a background in general desktop support in the public sector and specialised software support in the private sector, Christian has worked as a freelance technology writer for websites and newsstand publications since 2008.