Written by Cable.co.uk, August 2012
Getting a good deal on student broadband is essential while you're studying. Here are some important points to consider before you buy...
The first step towards finding the right student broadband package is to see what's available where you live. Use an Ofcom approved comparison site to check availability, and to get a good idea of the going rate for broadband in your area, as prices do vary.
The faster your broadband speed the quicker you'll be able to download files. If you'll be the only person using your broadband package then a standard ADSL service over your phone line should be fast enough but, if you'll be sharing your connection with housemates, a faster service should help to avoid any arguments.
Most broadband packages have a specific monthly usage allowance. If the broadband package will be for your sole use a download allowance of 10GB should suffice, just as long as you keep the video streaming to a minimum. However, if you're going to be sharing your broadband with housemates a high or unlimited package will often be more suitable. Be mindful of your broadband usage, as your provider will likely penalise you if you go over your allowance more than once.
Work out how much you can afford to spend on broadband, but don't be tempted to buy a cheap package if it's not going to be fast enough or doesn't have a high enough monthly usage allowance to let you do everything you need. If you're in a shared house pool your money together to get a fast and unlimited package.
Some providers offer student broadband with short, nine-month contracts that match the length of the academic year. However, if you're staying in your house over the summer you'll probably be able to get a better deal by signing up to a 12-month contract.
All contracts have a ‘minimum term’, and if you try to cancel your broadband within this period you may be charged an early cancellation fee plus a surcharge for each month that remains of the contract. So try to figure out if some, or all, of your household will be staying at the property over the summer – otherwise you could end up with a contact that's too short or, even worse, too long.
Many broadband providers insist that just one person's name is put on the contract so, if you'll be sharing your broadband package with housemates, work out who that will be. If you think that this may cause problems, phone different providers to try and find one that will allow you all to put your names on the contract.
With the exception of certain mobile and fibre-optic broadband packages you’ll need to pay line rental. You can often choose to pay your line rental to your broadband provider at a rate lower than BT's to save money.
Most providers will give you a free wireless router when you sign up, but they may charge you postage and packing. A wireless router will be essential if you're sharing your broadband with housemates as it will enable them to browse the web on any Wi-Fi enabled device such as a laptop. Do some research into the different wireless routers that the various providers supply and make sure that you get one that can handle however many devices are going to be connected to it at any given time.
If fibre-optic broadband isn't an option where you live and you don't have access to a phone line for ADSL then a mobile broadband package is a good fallback option. The connection won't be as fast but it should be sufficient for simple browsing and emailing, especially if you live in an area with good signal strength. Many leading mobile broadband packages also include some free usage at Wi-Fi 'hotspots' so you'll have the added benefit of being able to get online when you're out and about.
BT, Sky and Virgin Media all offer broadband in bundles with inclusive phone calls and digital TV. Buying all of these services in a bundle from a single provider will usually work out cheaper than getting each from a different company and you'll have all your charges on a single bill each month.
As with any other purchase you should compare broadband deals before committing to a contract. Visit Cable - Compare Broadband Deals to find the right package for you. Use an Ofcom approved broadband comparison site to be sure that the prices are up to date and that there are no hidden charges.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.