Over the next few weeks students in higher education from across the United Kingdom will slowly begin returning to temporary accommodation, which is usually nearby to their chosen college or university. Some will get broadband by default (campus connection), but others will need to choose their own ISP.
Broadly speaking the needs of students often aren’t that different from those of a large family, particularly if you have to share the accommodation with others. In that’s sense there will often be a demand for premium TV services, superfast broadband speeds, affordability and unlimited usage.
On the other hand a normal consumer will often remain in the same property for several years, while students are usually only in the same place for around 8 or 9 months of any given year and this may create a problem since that most big broadband ISPs sell services based on longer 12, 18 or even 24 month contract terms.
The good news is that today’s market is a lot more flexible and choice is abundant, but there are still a few things that you should consider before picking a provider.
Now let’s take a quick look at what two of the biggest providers offer specifically for students, but remember that there are smaller providers with shorter contract terms to be found too. Take note that most FTTC based “fibre broadband” packages also continue to come with a 12 month term no matter what ISP you choose and, much like BT, they usually need an existing phone line rental service to be installed in order for the broadband side to work. Check out our UK ISP Listings for the choices.
Firstly we have Virgin Media’s Student Deals, although these are only available to around 50% of UK premises (Virgin’s cable network keeps a tight focus on dense urban areas). Otherwise the packages appear to be a slightly more expensive version of the normal standalone broadband options (no phone line / voice calls), albeit on a 9 month instead of 12 month term.
A £9.99 activation fee also applies to each package and some new properties may also attract an installation fee of £40. Each package also includes unlimited usage (note: upload speeds suffer some traffic management) and an included SuperHub 3 wireless router.
Super 50 Fibre Broadband
* Speeds: up to 50Mbps Download / 3Mbps Upload
PRICE: £34 per month
VIVID 100 Fibre Broadband
* Speeds: up to 100Mbps Download / 6Mbps Upload
PRICE: £39 per month
* Speeds: up to 200Mbps Download / 12Mbps Upload
PRICE: £47 per month
By comparison BT’s Student Deals follow a similar approach and 9 month contract, although they also require customers pay for separate line rental, but this does at least include free UK weekend calls.
Where BT falls down is on the speed of their FTTC service (unless you’re in the lucky minority with access to one of their FTTP areas), with Virgin’s 200Mbps service coming in at a similar price to BT’s 76Mbps option. On top of that FTTC is well known to be more unreliable at delivering that top speed (you need to live very close to your local BT street cabinet), so you may have to opt for the slower of the two packages if your line can’t handle it.
Otherwise each package includes unlimited usage, access to BT’s UK network of public WiFi hotspots, free live BTSport Lite TV content (this one can be a big pull for Football loving students) and a £25 Costa voucher. We should add that there’s also a £7.95 router delivery charge.
Unlimited Infinity 1
* Up to 52Mbps download speed (9.5Mbps upload)
* Included SmartHub Wireless Router
* £49 one-off Fibre activation fee
* BT NetProtect Internet security for 2 devices
* 100GB of cloud storage
PRICE: £20 a month + £18.99 per month line rental (TOTAL = £38.99 per month)
Unlimited Infinity 2
* Up to 76Mbps download speed (19Mbps upload)
* Included SmartHub Wireless Router
* Free Fibre activation fee
* BT NetProtect Internet security for 15 devices
* 500GB of cloud storage
PRICE: £26 a month + £18.99 per month line rental (TOTAL = £44.99 per month)
Just remember that the order process for student deals is usually a bit different from the normal one. For example, BT won’t let you begin the process unless you have a student email address associated with your university or college membership. Usually some form of valid student ID or verification will be required.
Naturally this is designed to stop any old Joe or Jane from taking the special deals, but it’s also annoying as sometimes you won’t get such an address until later.