Best value student broadband 2018
Fast WiFi is the number one ingredient for a happy student house. But how do you know if you're getting the best deal? We've done the legwork for you!
There are loads of broadband offers out there, so it can get pretty overwhelming trying to pick out the best provider for your student house.
Since WiFi is such an important part of your everyday life, it's important to know exactly what you're getting with each deal (and at what cost!) before signing up to anything.
Here (and across our entire student bills section) we compare the best value student broadband deals currently available, including a clear breakdown of what you're really getting for your money.
And unlike other broadband comparisons you'll find, we also take into account the hidden set-up fees to give you a more accurate idea of the overall cost. So no nasty surprises here!
An active phone line is needed for most broadband contracts, as that’s how they deliver the broadband to your house.
You can decide whether to bundle your home phone and broadband together (which is often cheaper) or set them up separately.
Some landlines might also need to be activated or re-connected before you can use them, which can cost around £50.
If you don’t need or want a phone line, Virgin Media doesn’t require you to have one (see the deal here).
A working router will be necessary to get your WiFi up and running.
Some companies force you to buy their own router when setting up your contract (although sometimes they’re free or you’ll just need to pay postage).
Alternatively you can buy one yourself – find one on Amazon!
It’s best to leave around 10 working days to get everything set up – although it can take longer in some cases.
How long it will actually take depends on whether you need an engineer to come out or not.
If you’re upgrading to a faster broadband speed, then an engineer might need to install new cables, which can take time.
On other occasions, it might literally be a case of plugging in your new router and you’re set!
These days we spend a lot of time streaming from the internet, whether it’s Netflix, Spotify or YouTube videos.
Therefore, you’ll be best off going for a broadband package which offers unlimited data usage.
If not, you risk going over your allotted data and the consequences can be extremely costly. The cheaper your broadband package is, the higher they tend to charge for this.
Think about how much you use the internet, especially if you’re sharing the connection between more than three people.
As an example, an hour-long HD TV show will normally use around 1GB.
Download speed is probably the biggest factor to consider, especially if you’ll be sharing your broadband with a number of housemates. If it’s too slow, you’ll experience lag, buffering and more than a few arguments about who’s hogging it all.
The main speeds you’ll see advertised can be grouped in to:
- Standard broadband – expect top speeds of 17Mb. This is the most basic broadband speed available
- Superfast fibre-optic broadband – top speeds of around 76Mb (although some companies offer much more than this). This one is suitable for heavy internet users, especially for streaming and downloading video or gaming online, and for houses where multiple people will be using the WiFi at the same time
- Ultrafast fibre-optic broadband – for speeds of 350Mb or more. This is only offered by limited suppliers and is likely unnecessary more most average internet users.
Remember that the advertised speed figures are just average speeds – meaning they’re received by at least 50% of customers between 8pm-10pm (peak WiFi time), but they’re not guaranteed.
Some companies will offer a personalised speed estimate before you sign up, which will give you a better idea of what kind of speed to expect.
More and more broadband providers offer you the option to pay for your whole contract, or sometimes just the phone line part of it, upfront. In some cases it can mean getting a month or more effectively free.
It will usually be labelled as something like ‘line saver’. However, this is only a good option if you can afford to pay in one lump sum.
Also, with most suppliers it voids the cooling off period you have, meaning you may not be eligible for a refund if you have issues with the speed of your internet.
Although 18 month contracts can offer the best value, as a student you’re more likely to be wanting a 9 or 12 month contract to coincide with your short-term tenancy agreement.
This year, more suppliers than ever are offering 9 month contracts, specifically aimed at the student market. However they aren’t always necessary better value overall! See the table below for more info.
Most broadband contracts are a minimum of 12 months, but students tend only to use the service for 9 or 10 (September – July). Even so, in most cases you can save money by getting a 12 month contract and then cancelling it or moving it over to your new house for the last three months.
You may have to pay a cancellation charge, but it can be cheaper than paying the remaining months in some cases.
It’s also worth remembering to check the cancellation terms of your contract, as the majority of the deals within our table tend to shoot up in cost after the initial contract.
At this stage it’s best to ditch your supplier and change to another one.
For the best overall value, you may want to consider getting an all-in-one package which includes phone line, broadband and TV.
Read our Broadband and TV package guide to see if this would work out as a better deal for you.
- Remember that the cost of broadband will be divided up between each housemate, meaning it’ll be cheaper when you share out the cost
- Just because a company is offering ‘student broadband’ doesn’t guarantee it’ll be the best option for you. Remember to compare deals across the market, as we have here
- Most students will end up taking a 12 month contract (in September) and then have to cancel after 9 months if they intend to move out. Always check out the cancellation costs for your provider to avoid any shocks, or go for a 9 month contract
- Keep an eye out for any other hidden charges (such as router costs, download penalties etc)
- Although the greatest care and research was taken when writing this guide, some of the information will inevitably change over time. We do our best make timely updates, but always check on the provider’s website too!