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The Best UK Student Broadband and Phone Solutions for a New Term

Posted Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 (8:58 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 2,538)
education broadband student

It’s that time of year again. No sooner than you’ve finished school, returned from college or come home from University then you’ll have to start thinking about a new broadband and phone service for the next term. Naturally BT and Virgin Media have begun promoting their own solutions with 9 month contract terms but there are other options.

Admittedly no student likes to be bombarded by those irritating “back to school” adverts, especially when they’ve only just got home. But if you do plan to share accommodation or expect to need a broadband or phone connection then as a basic rule it should be on a 9 month contract or less (i.e. suitable for a traditional term / tenancy length).

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore other 12 month+ contract deals (e.g. TalkTalk and Sky Broadband) but do check how much they would cost to cancel early first since most students’ are unlikely to run them for a full year. Some ISPs will penalise you more than others for cancelling early but these days Ofcom’s guidelines for Early Termination Charges also require ISPs, at least the largest ones, to reflect the costs that the providers save by no longer providing the service.

It’s wise to be thinking about such things early because some services can take time to arrange for installation and if there’s a bout of bad weather during the end of summer or early autumn then that could result in delays (i.e. ISPs will prioritise repair work). So don’t wait until the last minute, get your accommodation and access plans ready early and then relax for the rest of your holiday.

Traditionally the big ISPs like Virgin Media and BT always have a focus on students, which is especially useful because they often bundle the required phone line rental in for the same 9 month contract term (many other ISPs tend to stick line rental on a longer contract of 12 months+, even if your broadband has a shorter term). It’s important to be mindful of this, especially if you take the services separately.

Headline Student Broadband Deals from BT and Virgin Media

BT Unlimited Broadband + Calls
* Up to 16Mb download speed
* Totally Unlimited Usage
* UK Weekend Calls included
* unlimited wi-fi (BTWifi Hotspots)
* Included HomeHub 4 Wireless Router
* Free BTSport TV
* 9 Month Contract

PRICE: £16 a month + line rental £15.45 monthly (£31.45)

BT Unlimited Infinity 1 + Calls
* Up to 38Mb download speed 
* Totally Unlimited Usage
* UK Weekend Calls included
* £30 one-off activation charge
* unlimited wi-fi (BTWifi Hotspots)
* Included HomeHub 4 Wireless Router
* Free BTSport TV
* 9 Month Contract

PRICE: £20 a month (rises to £23 from month 10) + line rental £15.45 monthly (£35.45)

Virgin Media – Up to 30Mb broadband with Talk Weekends
* Superfast up to 30Mb broadband
* Super Hub wireless router
* Unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin Mobile numbers
* Line rental included
* One off installation fee £49.95
* Unlimited usage (Traffic Management)
* 9 month contract

PRICE: £29.49 a month

Virgin Media – Up to 60Mb broadband with Talk Weekends
* Superfast up to 60Mb broadband
* New Super Hub wireless router
* Unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin Mobile numbers
* Line rental included
* One off installation fee £49.95
* Unlimited usage (Traffic Management)
* 9 month contract

PRICE: £34.49 a month

Take note that if you don’t want a phone line then Virgin Media also offer a truly standalone broadband service (30Mbps without a phone line drops to £22.50 a month), which is handy when you’d rather just use your own mobile for voice calls and is one of the reasons why Virgin is so common among students. Virgin can also throw in one of their TV packages.

If you expect to be sharing the accommodation and broadband service with several people then it’s probably also wise to get the fastest student connection available to you. But this will naturally depend upon whether or not BT’s fibre (FTTC/P) or Virgin’s cable platform is available in the area where you intend to stay.

The Alternatives

But if quality is more important, and price less of a consideration, then don’t forget all of the smaller providers like Zen Internet, IDNet, AAISP, Aquiss, XILO and many more that often offer shorter or 1 month contract terms. Admittedly some of these might not be able to offer “unlimited usage” or match BT/Virgin’s price but the level of support and service quality will frequently be higher to compensate. Check out our UK ISP Listings for more.

Finally, if you don’t need a big usage allowance and just want a reasonable broadband connection that you can take with you then there’s always Mobile Broadband. But make sure to check what the coverage is like in your accommodation for your desired network first because this can impact performance (e.g. ask to see what the reception is like on a friend’s phone etc.). Some networks may deliver a better 3G or 4G signal than others.

You could then either get a dedicate Mobile Broadband dongle (USB Modem), which is probably best, or pick a contract that supports Tethering (assuming you have a compatible Smartphone) and simply use your phone as a mobile wifi modem (MiFi) for your computer. The latter usually isn’t as fast or flexible as a dedicated dongle but it’s a viable option.

Generally Three UK is the best network for data hungry users but EE do have an even faster 4G service in most of the major cities and towns. But don’t concern yourself with the issue of 4G too much this year as the networks are still in their infancy and usage allowances may be more important to you than top speed.

Incidentally BT’s student offers are only available to order until October 31st.

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3 Responses
  1. Sledgehammer

    It’s about time OFCOM stepped in and made it a condition that all ISP’s work to a 1 month contract. Not 12 or 18 months, it would make moving to a new isp a whole lot easier.

    It would reveal what the likes of the big 4 ISP’s charges would realy be. If smaller isp’s can work with 1 month contracts why not everyone.

  2. Thanks for the tipp. I just started my studies and currently search for a new ISP provider, so this is very useful for me.

  3. ICUK are another ISP to offer contracts starting at 1 month rolling. Definitely something for students to look in to – the hassle of switching or closing a 12 month account is not something to look forward to at the end of tenancy!

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