Getting online in your new student accommodation is important. Not only do you need to use the internet for research, but lectures and tutorials are also increasingly accessed online.
Ideally, you need student broadband, short-term contracts tailored for the regularly changing residential status of university students. Some landlords include broadband access; if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to find a student broadband deal.
I can’t find any specific student deals, what are the alternatives?
Sometimes student-targeted broadband internet deals are offered by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). If you can’t find one, alternatives are available.
Some providers offer short term broadband access through rolling monthly deals. These are flexible and can be cancelled at any time, but the set-up costs are higher and the monthly bill less attractive.
Meanwhile, if your property can receive 4G or 5G and an unlimited data plan is available, you can subscribe to mobile broadband internet via a dedicated Wi-Fi router. These devices are designed to receive data over the air, rather than via a cable, then broadcast as a standard Wi-Fi router does.
What speed do we need?
The best way to assess internet speed requirements is to count the number of people on the property. Accommodation for one or two people shouldn’t need more than 20Mbps per person, so should be able to get by with ADSL or a basic fibre connection.
Larger households will need a faster connection. Fibre internet starts at around 35Mbps but some providers offer speeds far over this. Find the speed that suits your accommodation, how many are sharing, and your budget.
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What if our property is in a broadband blackspot?
Not every property is fortunate enough to be able to receive fast internet speeds. There is the possibility that you live in a broadband blackspot, condemned to suffer sub-10Mbps speeds.
To find out what top speeds and services you can receive, use a broadband postcode checking tool. This will show you what broadband packages are available and the maximum speed you can expect to receive. Not fast enough? Consider mobile internet instead.
Also read: How To Open A Student In The UK
What is a reasonable price?
Broadband internet does not have to be expensive, with a basic ADSL service available for under £20 a month. But while affordable, browsing will be slow and video streaming poor. If you need to access lectures streamed across the internet, such a package is unsuitable.
For £20-30 a month you can subscribe to basic fibre broadband at 35-50Mbps, while higher speeds will require a bigger chunk of your budget. You can save money by refusing TV and phone bundles, which always increase costs.
Some deals come with a discount or gift card that can help reduce the impact of the monthly cost. To work out the monthly cost with the gift card taken into account, multiply the monthly cost by the contract length, then subtract the discount. Divide this by the number of months in the contract.
Is there likely to be a set-up fee?
Set-up fees are common but often inexpensive. Typically, a router is sent to a property and the resident sets it up. The only time this doesn’t happen, and when the cost goes up, is when an engineer visit is required to connect the property to the network. If you would rather avoid this cost, Broadband Genie has a guide where you can compare deals without a set-up fee.
What if the installation date isn’t for weeks after we move in?
Be prepared. As soon as you know when you’re moving in, sign up to an ISP and arrange an installation date as close to your moving date as possible. The installation date should at worst be days later, rather than weeks.
If you have to wait, use mobile internet sharing on your smartphone. But be sure to check data caps and subsequent charges or upgrades before relying on this for too long.
Our broadband needs a line installed, is that OK?
Physical alterations – including drilling and hardware installation – require the permission of your landlord or property agent. Consequently, any engineer visit must be okayed by whoever is managing the property. You’ll need to contact them with the necessary information. Failure here could result in a breach of contract.
Do I need to pass a credit check?
Credit checks are run by ISPs, but these are usually to verify personal details and check for a credit history rather than to make a judgement. Some ISPs offer deals that don’t require any credit check.
What’s the best way to split the bill?
As only one person can be named on a contract from an ISP, you’ll need to discuss with your housemates the best way to pay for broadband internet as a group.
The best options are to either use bill splitting apps, set up a house joint account, or each person set up a standing order to pay a portion of the monthly bill to the person named on the contract.