Broadband is an essential utility for students but there’s a vast choice of packages, includingspecial student broadband deals. How do you go about selecting the right service for your student home?

What is student broadband?

Most broadband packages come with a contract period of 12, 18 or 24 months and cancelling early means paying a fee for the remaining term. That isn’t always the best setup for students, who may not be living in the same property for a whole year.

But there are broadband services with shorter contracts and this is often what you’ll find when searching online for student broadband deals.

Some are specifically aimed at students so feature a nine month term and are only available around July, August and September. Other packages simply offer a short contract as standard all year round. Rolling monthly is most common though there are sometimes three and six month deals.

Do you need student broadband?

There’s generally no difference in terms of speed or service between student broadband and regular broadband besides the contract length so you won’t miss out on anything by opting for one. The key advantage is contract flexibility.

But watch out for the setup and running costs when comparing these short term deals.

Signing up for longer contracts will often mean lower monthly costs and little to no outlay up front as the setup fees are waived. On a short contract the provider may charge for setup and extras like a wireless router which are usually included.

Another aspect to consider is the phone line rental. Nearly every broadband service requires an active telephone line and this is likely to come with its own 12 month contract. To avoid this you’ll need to choose a provider which can deliver both phone and broadband on a short contract, or select a service which doesn’t require a phone line.

Not every student needs to go for a student broadband package. If your living arrangements aren’t going to drastically change in the near future and a cancellation fee isn’t a concern then you’ll probably find that a normal broadband deal offers better value for money. And if you move during the contract period the broadband and phone can be transferred to the new address.

Your options for broadband: choosing the right technology

Many homes now have access to both ADSL and fibre optic broadband. If price is the primary concern then ADSL broadband using the trusty old telephone lines is the cheapest option. However with a top speed of 17Mb (and probably less in practice) it’s not particularly rapid and can be easily overwhelmed by just a few users, making it unsuitable for shared houses.

Fibre broadband is the best choice if you demand fast connectivity and require it to handle multiple users and devices without choking. Most of the fibre services available now are using either the BT Openreach or Virgin Media networks.

BT network fibre services offer a top speed of either 38Mb or 76Mb. They’re available from a wide range of ISPs, not just BT itself, so the competition means there are always some deals up for grabs. But short term contracts are rarer with fibre so you may need to accept a longer agreement, and it still needs a telephone line.

Virgin Media fibre is only provided by Virgin Media. Prices tend to be a little higher and coverage is not as extensive as the BT network, but it does have two big advantages. First is the top speed of 200Mb, currently the fastest mass market broadband connection in the UK. Secondly, and perhaps of most interest to students, is the fact that Virgin offers broadband without a phone line so there’s no need to pay for line rental just to get internet access.

Is mobile internet suitable for students?

Mobile broadband is a potential alternative to fixed line internet services, and while not suitable for everyone some students may find it a perfect fit for their requirements.

Provided you can get a good signal mobile internet can be quick, particularly if 4G is available. But it’s real strength is flexibility. As it’s not reliant on a physical link the broadband service can go wherever you do (assuming there’s a signal of course) so moving home isn’t an issue.

It isn’t up to the task of serving multiple users, though, and with relatively low data caps compared to home broadband it could get very expensive if you regularly indulge in video streaming or large downloads. But if your usage is light and you just need a straightforward connection to the internet free of the hassles of a fixed line contract, mobile internet might be the solution.

Article courtesy of Viki (Broadband Genie)


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