When sharing a flat or house, managing utilities can be a point of contention. The broadband internet bill is a fine example of this. But how can you ensure you and your housemates are paying for the best deal for your internet requirements? Well, we've compiled this guide to help you get the best broadband deals when sharing a house.
Of course, you don't have to be flat-sharing to read this guide. Anyone co-habiting should find useful information here, whether you're residing in student housing, or sharing your home with a lodger, or simply have a family full of internet users.
Getting broadband in a shared home: the key points
Internet speed needs to be fast enough to cope with multiple users. Of course, this will depend on what you and your housemates do online. Browsing, email, and some video streaming doesn't need too much speed; regular video streaming (in high definition) and online gaming, however, need as much as you can get. And the more people using the internet at once, the more speed you'll need.
Cheap ADSL packages will do for light use for one or two people, but for three or more co-habiting, a fibre broadband package is recommended; continue reading below for some usage examples and speed recommendations.
Data usage limits
For individuals, broadband limits can be useful to help keep costs down. But if you're sharing with friends, it makes sense to choose a package without data caps. Unlimited broadband packages, therefore, are the best option, enabling all housemates to do whatever they like online without worrying about restrictions or additional fees.
Prices and broadband deals
Finding the best deals and prices depends on where you're based, and what your requirements are. But remember, while low prices are good for your bank balance, unlimited data and speed are important. The best way to get started is to enter your postcode on Broadband Genie to see the latest deals in your area:
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In some cases, you might need to have a line installed on the premises. This is usually the case if no broadband has previously been used at the address, or if you're switching from a Virgin Media line to a BT Openreach line or vice versa. If you’re renting your landlord will need to give permission to engineers installing cabling, so ensure that this is okay before signing up.
- Can I get broadband without a phone line?
Almost everyone uses mobile phones these days, so what is the point of a landline? If you prefer to eschew the legacy phone, Virgin Media offers fibre broadband for households that don't require a landline.
Openreach packages, meanwhile, require you to sign up for phone line rental, unless you're able to get the very top speeds via an FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) package as this technology doesn’t rely on the old BT telephone network. Coverage for FTTP is currently limited, however, so this might not be available to you.
Alternatively, you might consider a 4G broadband provider. Both EE and Three offer 4G for home broadband, though only Three provides unlimited data packages. However, this might be too slow for your requirements.
What broadband is right for my shared home?
So, you know what is available, but which type of broadband internet connection will suit the diverse requirements of your household? Check the usage examples below and compare them with how you and your housemates use the internet. Keep in mind that these are just broad examples and it’s worth talking it over as a group before signing up to any packages.
If you only share with one other person, and usage is mainly browsing the web, some social media and a bit of communal boxset streaming, an ADSL or entry-level fibre package would be suitable.
For larger house shares (three to five housemates) with standard internet use, plus a bit of downloading and online gaming, a faster fibre package is recommended (65Mpbs or thereabouts), although you might get away with the minimum fibre speeds (around 35Mbps on BT Openreach providers, 50Mb on the Virgin network).
In a bustling home of five or more people, with regular streaming and online gaming and data downloads, you'll need to consider top end fibre broadband packages. Consider Openreach network fibre packages up to 65Mbps as the entry-level, but any of Virgin Media's packages over 100Mbps are even better.
How to manage shared broadband
Regardless of how many people in your household are accessing the internet, one person needs to be the named account holder. If you’re not paying out of a shared account this is the person who needs to be paid so they're not out of pocket when it comes to the monthly direct debit payment. Problems with the bills - and if the connection is used for file-sharing or other illegal activity - will also be the responsibility of the bill payer.
Paying for shared broadband
Splitting bills can be tricky. Fortunately, all it requires is a calculator and an easy payment mechanism (such as cash in your wallet). If this isn't convenient among the hustle and bustle of modern life, why not try an app to help divide up the billing and forward payment?
Many are available, but one good option is the free www.splitwise.com. This offers a web interface, as well as apps for Android and iPhone.
What happens to the broadband when you move out?
Eventually, someone will move out of your home. So, what happens to broadband?
If the account holder is the one moving on, then they might take the account with them, leaving you to sort out a new broadband provider. Alternatively, it might be simpler to transfer the account from one housemate to another. You can do this over the phone but it requires both parties to be present to speak to the ISP in turn to manage the transfer.
Remember that payment must be continued. Responsibility falls on the account holder, so ensure that all housemates are paying the agreed amount.
If the time has come for everyone to move onto new premises, then the broadband account will need to be cancelled. The usual way to do this is to make a call to the ISP, although in some cases it can be done online. Keep in mind that early cancellation fees may apply - the named account holder will be billed for this.