Finding The Best Internet Deals For Students
Anyone who’s ever had their internet go down for a day will appreciate how important it is to have a good broadband connection. Trying to exist without one is a nightmare of confused isolation, especially as a student, with research to do, projects to submit, wikipedia to consult and Netflix to shamefully binge on for the rest of the evening.
The problem is that students are on an infamously tight budget, and simply cannot afford the most robust, rounded-out internet packages. Nor can they lock themselves into long contracts if they’ll be changing accommodation at the end of the term, or if they will be graduating and are unsure where the hunt for employment will take them.
To help cut through this mess of conflicting requirements, we’ve compared several of the UK’s leading coverage providers to find the best deals to match the requirements of a student customer.
Look for Possible Student Deals
Two of the biggest broadband providers in the UK both offer dedicated student deals designed to begin in October and end in June, spanning the University term dates neatly and preventing students from paying for internet services that they won’t be using. These providers are BT Broadband and Virgin Media – and both offer super-fast fiber-optic broadband, with BT also offering a less expensive standard cable internet. These high-capacity, high-speed and short contracts may be exactly what you’re looking for, but don’t be afraid to shop around where your broadband is concerned – active consumers always get better deals than those who settle for the first thing they see or simply stick meekly with the same provider forever.
For example, if you’re sure that you’ll be in the same student house for two years or more, it may be cheaper to take a 12- or 18-month contract instead of one of the short student deals, particularly if you’ll be there over the summer. The longer contracts are usually cheaper per month, though be sure before you commit to one – there is always a cancellation fee for leaving the contract early.
BT Broadband contracts begin at £14 per month, plus £15.99 monthly line rental fee, making them pretty expensive compared to some of their competitors (talked about below). Virgin Media are more expensive still – with their cheapest package starting at £32 per month, with the paltry sweetener of not having to pay line rental. These packages are undoubtedly fast and have the support network of a large company behind them, but for many students the cost will just be too high.
Consider the Alternatives
BT and Virgin are the biggest internet service providers in the UK, but they are certainly not the only ones. Talktalk, for example, runs a broadband package which is FREE for the first 18 months, plus a £16.70 line rental charge. In cases like these, it may well be cheaper to simply use the free service and pay the cancellation fee when you no longer need it.
Similarly, Sky Broadband is free for the first 12 months, with line rental of £16.40, and Plusnet charges lower line rental (£12.99) to make up for their positively measly £2.50 monthly charge.
However, if you’re living with other students, the speeds provided by these cheaper providers may not be what you are looking for – Sky, Plusnet and Talktalk all have maximum speeds that are less than half the top speed of BT Broadband and Virgin Media. If you’re going to be living alone and using the internet for browsing and emailing only, you could get away with a package speed of only 8Mb, but for a house of avid surfers and download fiends something more in the region of 100Mb would be recommended. You may even take full leave of your senses and splash out on Virgin Media’s extravagant 152Mb Big Kahuna bundle, rendering your downloads near-instantaneous.
Tailor Your Package to Suit You
The moral of all this rambling is that no two student houses are in exactly the same position. In some houses, one student alone may need an 8Mb package 18-month contract from Talktalk to get the best value for their limited money, and next door a house of 6 could be guzzling down 152Mb of download bandwidth from Virgin’s fastest fiber optic cables and splitting the cost of their 9-month contract between them. Carefully assess your own situation.
How long will you be living here?
How many people will be needing the internet? For what?
How much money can you all contribute? Can you justify paying more for valuable extras?
Like the students they cater to, no two broadband packages are alike. If you know what you need, you can get some fantastic deals that will seem tailor-made for you.