What's a student broadband deal?
If you're off to Uni or College and don't have the luxury of staying in a well-connected Halls of Residence, you'll need to think about how you're going to stay online.
Because it's not always possible to stay in accommodation for a full year, signing up to a lengthy contract isn't always the best idea. To help with this, some broadband providers offer shorter contracts that fit better within term times.
Student broadband: the key points
Why should I choose a student broadband deal over home broadband?
Most home broadband contracts have a minimum contract term of 12, 18, or 24 months. This can be a problem if you're a student who won’t be staying in the same place all year. If you cancel early, it's likely you'll be charged additional fees. This obviously isn't great if you're budgeting your student loan.
Which broadband providers offer student deals and when?
Dedicated student broadband deals aren't too common. They’re only offered by a few providers and for a limited time. Usually around the summer when it’s most likely people will be looking for a student broadband deal to start in September.
To see what's available in your area for shorter contracts, enter your address or postcode into our deals checker.
Broadband Genie shorter contracts deals checker
When student deals aren’t available, our comparison table will display other packages we think students may find helpful.
What should I consider when comparing student broadband deals?
Pay close attention to the contract length. You'll also need to work out what speed you need.
A student broadband contract will often only be 9 months compared to the usual 12 months - that's the length of an academic year, but these deals are becoming rarer. If you’re going to be renting your place over the summer too, you might want to opt for a 12-month contract. For more help with this, read our guide to broadband in a rented home.
If you're in a shared house, you'll need to bear in mind how many of you will be going online, and the tasks you'll be carrying out.
Now you know what to look out for, let’s talk about which providers offer student broadband deals.
See also: '12-month broadband deals'.
What broadband speed do I need?
If you’re sharing broadband with multiple people, you’ll ideally want to look into fibre broadband. It’ll allow for faster download speeds, even if a few of your housemates are online at the same time.
The minimum download speed we suggest is 36Mb. But if you and your housemates will be doing a lot of online gaming or streaming HD content, you’ll want more.
For the majority of broadband deals, you won’t find great upload speeds, but that's OK. The download speeds offered should be enough for streaming Netflix, online gaming and general browsing. Upload speeds are more important for users who will be streaming themselves (hosting on Twitch, for example), making video calls and sharing files.
Whether you download or upload a lot, you should still keep any download and usage limits in mind.
For more help with this, you can read our 'easy guide to broadband speeds'.
What usage and download limits should I go for?
Most broadband packages now come without usage limits, so you won't have to worry about how much you download and won't be charged for extra data.
What are some alternatives to student broadband?
Sadly, it looks as if the Student Broadband 9-month deals are a little thin on the ground in 2023. For this reason, here are your next best alternatives.
- No-contract broadband
With a no-contract (or 1-month contract) deal, you’ve got a 30-day agreement with the provider. That means it can be cancelled at any time, without having to pay for more than the remaining month.
These types of deals only really make sense if you’re sure you’ll need to cancel within 12 months. These contracts tend to be more expensive than most 12-month deals and often have higher set-up fees.
- Short-term contracts
Short-term contracts have you sign up for a slightly longer period than no contract packages. It’s typically three or six-month terms. Unfortunately, these types of broadband deals are now rare.
- Broadband with no setup fee
This isn’t quite an alternative, but a convenient money-saving option. Some deals offer broadband with no upfront fees, which can save you money. You can use the filters on the table above to see these deals.
Can I use mobile broadband instead of student broadband?
With a choice of long and short-term contracts, as well as pay-as-you-go deals, mobile broadband is a very flexible alternative. So it may be an ideal solution for some students.
But mobile broadband needs access to a strong signal. And the fact there might be data caps in place makes a less than ideal option for a shared student house.
For further help, and to discover whether mobile broadband could be suitable for you, read our guide to using mobile broadband at home.
So now you know about student broadband and know whether its for you or not, you need to think about installation.
Can I get student broadband without a phone line?
It's important to note, these services still need a cable to be installed on your property for broadband. If you want something which doesn't use any kind of line, a 4G or 5G broadband service may be what you’re after.
Most other fixed-line broadband providers use the Openreach telephone network, and require you to pay phone line rental. In almost all cases, the phone and broadband will be sold as a bundle. You'll be able to choose whether you want calls included.
What is Openreach?
Openreach is the company that maintains the former British Telecom Network used for the majority of broadband and phone services. If a repair or installation is required, it’s Openreach who will send an engineer, not your provider.
More than 650 service providers using the Openreach network. That’s the majority of the UK’s broadband providers. This includes Sky, TalkTalk and BT. The exception to this is Virgin Media - it uses its own, separate cable network.
Can I get student broadband with TV?
Your best choice for a shorter broadband contract with TV bundled in is currently NOW Broadband. These packages are available on a 1-month deal, with flexible TV passes. So you won't be locked into a long contract.
Is student broadband right for me?
Shorter contracts can save students a lot of money. If you end up having to pay for the early cancellation of a longer 18 or 24-month contract, it can end up costing you a small fortune.
If this sounds like you, a long-term unlimited broadband contract is the best value option. You’ll get the best deals when signing up.
Perks such as free setup, free equipment and perhaps a few months of free or half-price broadband. You might even find some good reward deals.
FAQs about student broadband
Do students get a discount on broadband deals?
Students sometimes get discount on broadband deals. But it's more likely providers will offer discounts or rewards across a whole range of packages - regardless of whether you’re taking out a student deal. It’s always worth checking back in at Broadband Genie to try to find the best deals.
Whose name goes on the bill and who pays?
This is a decision you'll have to come to a household. Remember, this person will be responsible for making sure the bill is paid on time, and they'll also have to cough up for any set-up fees. A bill-splitting app, like Acasa or online banking features for requesting money (i.e Monzo's split billing) can be the easiest way to get around this.
Does student broadband include a Wi-Fi router?
Almost every broadband deal will include a free Wi-Fi router. If it’s not free, the one-off charges shouldn't be too high.
You may also be able to use your own Wi-Fi router, but check with the provider in advance, as this isn’t always permitted. Bear in mind if you use this, you may not have access to tech support if something goes wrong.
Do I need to pass a credit check for student broadband?
Most broadband packages require you to pass a credit check. This isn't as strict as applying for a loan or credit card, but if you don't have a great credit score, some providers may refuse you. If you're worried about this, you'll need to look at broadband deals without a credit check.
How long does broadband installation take?
Broadband installation usually takes two weeks. This includes all the little administration bits. This means you’ll probably need access to your student accommodation before term starts if you want to be up and running on day one. Make sure to arrange that with the university, or your landlord.
The actual installation shouldn’t take more than a few hours. If your property has already been connected to the BT or Virgin networks (depending on which you’re signing up to) it’ll just be switching it back on. If the property hasn't been connected before, there may need to be a little bit more work involved. Make sure you get approval from your landlord before carrying out any new installations.
One of the most important things you need to get sorted out before starting university is broadband. Making sure you have a good connection and can get online easily will make a big difference to your studies, and your leisure time.
Most fibre broadband deals now come with unlimited usage. This makes things easier, so you don't have to worry about being charged extra for data.
The main thing to avoid is signing up to a lengthy 18 or 24-month contract. It might be tempting to be lured into these, thinking you can cancel later, especially as they often have a cheaper monthly price. However, broadband providers take their contract agreement terms very seriously. Cancelling early isn't really ever an option unless there are special circumstances. Early termination fees can end up being very expensive.
Sadly, this means you'll probably have to avoid dedicated broadband and TV packages, but there are a few options available. Rolling contract broadband can keep things a little more flexible and give you the freedom to cancel once everyone's left for the end of term. However, these tend to come with a higher set-up cost, which you'll need to cover before you get connected.