What do students need from a broadband tariff?
When you’re at university, you’ll need the internet to do your research, read important emails and submit your assignments. But of course, that’s not all you’ll need it for.
More and more of us struggle to live without streaming services like Netflix and Spotify these days. Constant streaming will eat up your data allowance, so you'll want to go for a broadband deal
with unlimited usage.
You'll also want to keep in contact with family and friends back home, and nothing beats video-calling for that. So, when you’re living at university, especially if you’re in a shared house, choosing the right broadband service is vital. This guide will tell you what to look for when you look for a new internet connection, so you can find the best student broadband package at the best price for you and your housemates.
When you look for a new internet package as a student, you need to consider the following:
- Speed - How fast do you need your internet to be? What type of internet users are in your household?
- Length of Contract - How long do you need your broadband contract to last? Will you be living in student accommodation for the full year?
- Usage - How much data will you need? Do I need unlimited broadband?
- TV - Are there any TV services offered as part of the package? How much do my housemates and I watch TV?
- Price - How much are you all willing to spend on your internet? Can you afford an all-in-one package? Or is cheap broadband your priority?
This guide will take a further look at each of these selling points.
Finding broadband on a student budget
As a student, budgeting is a big part of your life. Mostly you’ll just want to spend our money at the Students’ Union bar, on socialising and having a good time. You don’t want to think about the boring, important stuff, let alone spend loads of your student loan on it. But internet is essential. And you don’t want your connection to cut out the night before you’ve got an important deadline, or as you’re frantically trying to buy the last tickets available for that big night out.
While you'll be working from a tight budget, going for the absolute cheapest deal might not always be the best option. If you live in a shared house with other students, you need to think about what speeds and download limits you will all need. You also need to consider if it’s worth getting your broadband with a phone or TV package too.
As always though, work within what you can afford, and you should be able to find a decent offer without paying over the odds.
Student broadband: contract length
You only want to pay for what you’re using, so choosing the right length of contract is important. If, like most university students, you go home for the summer, you probably don’t need internet at your student home for the whole year.
Many broadband providers offer 9-month contracts aimed especially at students for this reason, as opposed to a standard 24, 18, or 12 month contract. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying less. Broadband providers want their customers to be tied in for as long as possible, so generally the longer your contract the less you must pay each month.
You could also consider getting a no-contract broadband plan. These typically come with a minimum term of just a month. The amount you pay each month will be slightly higher than on a longer-term deal, but it gives you the flexibility to switch broadband provider if you discover that the one you’re with isn’t right for you.
Student broadband: download speeds
It’s important to consider the speed of broadband you’ll need when choosing the right deal. Students generally spend a lot of time online, whether that’s researching for their coursework, posting on Facebook or streaming music and videos. With a lot of people using the internet at once in one house, you might find your broadband speed starts to suffer.
If there are a lot of you in a shared home
, it’s worth getting a high-speed fibre optic broadband connection, especially if you stream a lot of videos or play online games. You’ll pay more for higher-speed broadband, but as there are more of you sharing the costs, it won’t set you back too much individually.
You should be aware that just because your broadband is advertised at a certain average speed, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting that speed. You share the speed with your housemates, so if there’s five of you in the house and your broadband is 50Mbps, then your actual download speed will be only 10Mbps if you’re all using the internet at the same time.
Do students need unlimited downloads?
As with connection speed, if you’re going to be sharing your download limit with your housemates, it’s always worth getting as much as you can. A few of the cheapest student broadband deals available will have limited usage, but they can end up costing you more than a package with unlimited data if you find yourself exceeding the limit each month. If your internet only allows up to 30GB of usage per month, you’ll soon find out this isn’t enough, especially if one of you has a Netflix addiction.
Thankfully, most packages these days come with unlimited usage, and this is what you should look for. With unlimited broadband
, you and your housemates will be able to browse and stream as much as you like without worrying about high bills or your internet cutting out.
Is it worth getting a broadband & TV bundle for my student house?
Many broadband providers will offer you a bundle package, which ties your broadband together with your TV and phone service. While bundling your broadband will result in a higher monthly cost, if you and your housemates like watching TV the old-fashioned way then it’s worth getting as it will be cheaper than getting separate contracts.
Although a lot of us are moving towards more convenient TV streaming services like Netflix, if you want to watch live sports on Sky
then you should consider getting a broadband and TV bundle.
Last reviewed: 04 May 2021
Next review: 04 June 2021