When it comes to student housing, fast and reliable Wi-Fi is a must. But student housing needs for broadband can be quite different to the norm. In addition to shorter tenancies and higher likelihood of bill-sharing, the number of people using the same Wi-Fi connection at once is likely to be more than a standard household, and therefore requires more bandwidth.
With so many broadband deals out there, it can be hard to know which are suitable for students and which aren't.
Below you'll find information on deals and things you should consider before signing-up for student broadband.
12 month student broadband deals
Broadband deals specifically targeted towards students are not as common as they used to be, with only BT and Virgin Media continuing to offer student broadband packages.
Both providers offer these deals on a 12 month basis, with Virgin also offering a monthly-rolling option.
BT used to be known as one of the only broadband providers offering short-term, 9-month contracts to students.
However, the provider has recently confirmed that, while they still offer student broadband, their 9-month deals have been replaced with 12-month contracts only.
BT's 12-month student deals are all Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and available across three speeds:-
Fibre Essential:- 36Mbps average download speeds.
Fibre 1:- 50Mbps average download speeds.
Fibre 2:- 67Mbps average download speeds.
All packages will have an activation fee of £29.99, and do not include a landline service.
It's also important to remember that BT are one of a handful of providers that have annual price rises baked into the terms and conditions of all their broadband contracts.
This means that on or after the 31st of March each year, the price of your broadband package will increase in-line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation, with an additional fee of 3.9% applied.
Virgin Media offers student broadband on either 12-month or 30-day monthly rolling contracts.
Virgin's student deals are available as the following:-
M100: 108Mbps average download speeds
M200:- 213Mbps average download speeds (12-month contract only)
M350: 362Mbps average download speeds
M500: 516Mbps average download speeds
Although you'll pay more per month on the 30 day-rolling option, Virgin have waived the activation fees, bringing down upfront costs.
However, like BT, Virgin also raises the price of its contracts annually, taking effect each April. So, depending on when you sign-up, the monthly price you pay will increase in line with the CPI rate of inflation, plus 3.9%.
To sign-up for a Virgin Media student broadband deal, you'll need to have an active 'ac.uk' email address.
Community Fibre new student broadband deals
London-based full fibre broadband provider Community Fibre, now offer 12 and 6-month broadband deals to students living and studying in the Capital.
12 month deals
Community Fibre's 12-month student deals are available as the following:
150Mbps Fibre broadband (average download and upload speeds of 150Mbps)
1Gbps Fibre broadband (average download and upload speeds of 920Mbps)
Both 12-month plans have an activation fee of £14.95.
6 month deals
Community Fibre's shorter-term, 6-month student deals are available as the following:
150Mbps Fibre broadband (average download and upload speeds of 150Mbps)
500Mbps Fibre broadband (average download and upload speeds of 500Mbps)
Both deals have an activation fee of £14.95.
As of November 2023, Community Fibre is available in the following London boroughs: Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Ealing, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, and Westminster.
Regular broadband packages
If you find one of the above dedicated student deals aren't suitable, there are a number of providers who offer fibre (FTTC) and full fibre (FTTP) deals on either 12-month or monthly-rolling contracts.
Cuckoo broadband are one of the only providers who charge the same monthly price for their 12-month and 30-day rolling contracts. This gives added flexibility to students who only want to stay connected during term time.
However, a one-time setup fee of £60 applies to those opting for a monthly-rolling contract.
Hyperoptic Broadband (Limited Availability)
London-based full fibre broadband provider, Hyperoptic Broadband offers a total of four broadband packages on both 12-month and monthly-rolling options.
Similar to Community Fibre, Hyperoptic is limited to where its services are available, with only around 900,000 premises currently able to connect to their broadband.
If you decide to opt for the monthly-rolling contract, you'll need to pay a one-off activation fee of £29.
NOW Broadband charges the same monthly cost for its broadband packages regardless of whether you opt for a 12-month plan or monthly-rolling.
NOW also has a wide range of TV options, all of which can be bundled with your broadband. Unlike most other providers, NOW's TV options are only available on a monthly-subscription basis. This is a great option for students who still want to take advantage of an entertainment package, but don't want to be tied into a long-term contract.
Onestream Broadband offers competitively priced fibre broadband packages available on 12-month contracts. And, because they operate on BT Openreach's network, their services will likely be available wherever you intend to study.
Other factors to consider
Aside from contract length, there are a few other things to consider when looking at student broadband:
What speed do I need?
For student broadband, download speeds will be one of the biggest factors to consider, especially if you'll have housemates.
In addition to housemates, it's also important to think about how many devices will be connected to Wi-Fi at once.
As a general rule of thumb, allowing at least 10Mbps per person is a good idea. For those who will be partaking in more bandwidth-heavy activities - such as streaming from Netflix in 4K or gaming online - allow at least 20Mbps per person.
Whether you need broadband without a credit check
Most providers will run a credit check when you sign up for a broadband contract. If you’re concerned about your credit rating, some providers - such as Direct Save Telecom and Sky - won't conduct one.
Even though you may be splitting the cost of your broadband with a number of other people, only one person can be named on the bill. Whoever is given this responsibility, ensure they're able to pay the bills in full and on-time.
Broadband type and location
The type of broadband connection available to you will depend on where you'll be living. Before looking at deals, it's a good idea to run a quote to see the type of broadband you can get.
ADSL broadband - while still offered by most providers on the market - is the slowest and most unreliable type of broadband available. So, unless you'll be living alone and only using the internet sparingly, you'll want to look for something faster.
According to telecoms regulator Ofcom, fibre broadband is now available to 95% of the UK. So, even if you don't live in an area where full fibre is available just yet, you should at least be able to get a partial fibre connection.
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