Is student broadband worth it?

Our guide to student broadband, what it is and what subscriptions you should look out for.

With the world becoming increasingly dependent on online services, access to the internet is more important than ever. Sharing a property as a student will be, for many, the first time you’ve spent away from your parents, meaning you’ll need to sort all your utilities out yourself. 

Broadband is no different, with you and your housemates needing fast, reliable internet in order to continue your studies and to help when it’s time to relax. Student broadband is now extremely popular, with this guide giving you all the tips you’ll need to get connected.

What is student broadband?

Student broadband essentially refers to subscriptions that have lower length contracts or that you can get without phone and TV services. These are in now way exclusive to students - the majority of time they’re simply re-branded to be ideal for student houses.

Many students will change where they live every year, making 18-month or 2-year contracts pointless and forcing them to spend money when they don’t need to. Student households also increasingly have no use for TV and phone services thanks to the rise of smartphones and the internet, making broadband-only another important part of student broadband.

Student contracts

Contracts for student broadband tend to be on the shorter side thanks to the relative briefness of student living. This means that the majority of broadband subscriptions branded as “student broadband” will either be 9 or 12 months, giving you full coverage throughout the university term.

You can also choose broadband that’s no contract, meaning you’ll pay month-to-month, with these types of contracts becoming more and more common.

Student broadband providers

There are a number of broadband providers that offer student broadband, though as previously mentioned, these are available to anyone. Big UK providers such as Virgin Media and BT both offer subscriptions of 9 and 12 months, with Virgin Media also offering 30 day rolling contracts for those who want to be able to cancel whenever they like. 

Plusnet also offers broadband subscriptions that are good for students, though it’s a lot slower than those offered by BT and Virgin Media, with its rolling contract only offering an average of 10Mbps. 

What internet speed do I need?

What speed you need will depend on how many people live in your household and how much you use your internet. The vast majority of students are heavy internet users, with coursework, online notes, video/music streaming and online gaming all being part of the average student’s day. This means that you’ll likely want to get hold of a fibre product with at least an average speed of 32Mbps. 

Virgin Media offers superfast fibre on a rolling contract that doesn’t break the bank, with some of its subscriptions being just under £10 per month if the cost is shared between 5 people, for example.

Will I need unlimited downloads?

Much like superfast speed, unlimited downloads is something that the majority of students will want to consider. Fibre subscriptions generally include unlimited downloads across the board, meaning if you go for one (especially if it’s from Virgin Media) you’ll be able to download whatever you need to without limits or extra charges. Make sure to double-check before you buy a subscription, as the last thing you want is to incur charges from everyone downloading the new FIFA at once, for example.

Do I have to get a phone line?

Many student broadband subscriptions are broadband only, meaning you won’t get TV or phone services to go alongside them. This will suit most students, as the use of smartphones and online streaming means that phone and TV subscriptions wouldn’t be used anyway.

If you do want a phone service for some reason, you can usually add this to your subscription. A pay as you use subscription will mean that you only pay for the calls you make, allowing you to keep the home phone in case of emergency.

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