Looking for a broadband deal as a student?
In this article, we’ve looked at 5 of the best student broadband deals in the UK right now.
We’ve looked at deals with special discounts and short-term contracts for students, as well as other cheap, flexible Wi-Fi deals.
Quick comparison table
Fibre 1 Student Deal
Super Fibre (30-Day Deal)
Hyperfast Student Deal
Best broadband deals for students
Let’s begin our reviews.
In this section, we’ve taken a look at 5 of the best broadband deals for students in the UK right now, including special offers specifically for students, as well as other cheap, short-term broadband plans.
By default, BT’s broadband deals all come with a 24 month contract. However, for students, they give you the choice of a 12 month or 9 month agreement.
With BT student WiFi deals, you can get speeds of up to 900 Mbps in some places, and there are plenty of other plans available with a lower monthly cost, if you don’t need ultrafast broadband.
The upfront fee on each of these deals is a bit high, especially on the superfast (rather than ultrafast) plans, but BT’s monthly costs are quite reasonable for such a short-term contract. There’s no landline phone service included, helping to reduce the price a bit further.
Although BT student broadband isn’t the cheapest option on the market, their customer service is good, and they offer much faster student broadband plans than many of their competitors.
Overall, if you’re looking for fast Wi-Fi on a short-term contract, BT is a great choice.
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NOW Broadband doesn’t offer ultrafast broadband like BT does – the maximum download speed you can get is 67 Mbps, rather than 900 Mbps.
However, NOW is one of the only broadband providers in the UK to offer broadband without a contract. This means you can get home broadband on a month-to-month basis, rather than having to lock into a 9 or 12 month contract.
The downside is, to buy a 30-day broadband deal from NOW, you’ll need to pay quite a high setup fee. However, NOW Broadband has very reasonable monthly costs, so they’re still a great choice if you’re on a tight budget.
If you choose the default 12 month contract, NOW only charges you £5 upfront, which is much lower than most other providers. No matter which contract length you choose, if you’re looking for cheap broadband, it’s hard to go past NOW.
It’s good to be aware though, NOW’s Wi-Fi router that they send you isn’t the best for large houses. If you’re sharing a place with a lot of other people, you’ll probably need to upgrade the router or get signal boosters to ensure that everyone has good a Wi-Fi connection.
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Virgin Media is another provider that offers broadband deals designed specifically for students.
Although the Virgin Media Broadband network isn’t available everywhere in the UK, there is good coverage in most city centres, which is most likely where you’ll be staying as a university student.
For students, Virgin Media allows you to join on a 12 month contract, or on a month-to-month agreement, rather than having to sign an 18-month contract like you normally would. This flexibility is great, although it would be good to see a 9-month option as well.
On the 12 month contracts, Virgin Media’s monthly costs are very reasonable, especially given the download speeds available with each plan, although there is a decent upfront cost. On the other hand, with the month-to-month student broadband deals, there’s no setup fee, but the monthly costs are much higher.
If you want fast broadband, Virgin Media is definitely worth looking at. They’re one of the only providers that offer ultrafast broadband without a contract at the moment. Just remember, when compared to other full fibre providers like BT, Virgin Media’s upload speeds are a bit slower.
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Hyperoptic is another provider with a relatively small broadband network. However, their coverage is concentrated in urban areas, so as a student it’s definitely worth checking if you can get Hyperoptic Broadband.
The great thing about Hyperoptic is they offer very fast, very flexible Wi-Fi plans. Unlike with BT or Virgin Media, you can get download speeds of up to 900 Mbps on a 30-day contract, and 12 month/24 month deals are available as well if you go to the main part of Hyperoptic’s website.
What’s more, this provider offers symmetrical download and upload speeds. This means that if you buy the 900 Mbps plan, you’ll get 900 Mbps download and upload speeds, rather than having to settle for a much slower upload speed when compared to your download speed.
Hyperoptic’s monthly costs are very reasonable – they offer discounts especially for students, and there are no setup costs at the moment, which is great.
The only downside to Hyperoptic is their lack of availability. But we would definitely recommend putting your postcode into their website to see if Hyperoptic is available at your student accommodation.
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5. Three 5G Hub
Rather than using a traditional fixed-line broadband connection, you might also like to use the 5G network to get online as a university student.
The Three 5G Hub is by far the cheapest way to get average download speeds of more than 200 Mbps at the moment, provided you get good 5G signal where you live.
With this router, you simply insert the SIM card, plug it into the wall, and get online. There’s no need to use your phone line to connect to the internet, and no need to get an engineer to visit and help get you set up.
The disadvantage of this way of getting online is your latency will be a bit higher than with a normal home broadband connection. This means that you might lag a bit more when playing online games.
Also, at the moment you need to enter into a 24 month contract with the 5G Hub, or you can enter into a one-month contract for a higher monthly cost. The flexibility of the 5G Hub is really great if you’re looking for a short-term way to get online.
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How to choose a broadband deal as a student
In this part of the article, we’ll explain some key things to consider when comparing different broadband deals as a student in the UK.
Which broadband provider is best for students?
- BT offers a good range of plans, including ultrafast fibre options, with download speeds of up to 900 Mbps. They also offer students the choice of a 9 month or 12 month contract.
- NOW Broadband is cheaper than BT, but their speeds aren’t as good. The main benefit of NOW is they offer broadband without a contract. If you want the most flexibility possible, and don’t want to be locked into a long-term broadband contract, NOW is a good choice.
The other benefit of both of these providers is they’re very widely available. Both BT and NOW Broadband use the Openreach broadband network, which is available basically everywhere in the UK. This network also offers ultrafast full fibre broadband speeds in city centres with some providers like BT, which is most likely where you’ll be staying as a student.
On the other hand, with Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, although we really like the speed and flexibility of their deals, you might not be able to get connected if these two networks aren’t available at your address.
Can you get broadband on a 9-month contract?
Most broadband plans sold in the UK come with a 12 month, 18 month, or 24 month contract by default.
For most students, this is too long – you don’t want to be paying for broadband when you’re not using it, such as on your summer break. Plus, these long-term broadband contracts have very high exit fees that you’ll have to pay if you want to leave before the agreement expires.
Fortunately, some broadband providers, such as BT, offer special 9-month broadband deals that are only available to students.
To access these special types of deals, you’ll need to prove that you’re a student, usually by creating an account with your university email address, and you might need to prove that you’re studying full-time, in some cases.
Just remember, by only choosing between 9-month broadband plans, you’ll be restricting the number of different providers that you can choose from. This isn’t necessarily a problem, it just means you’ll have less choice when trying to find a broadband deal with good speeds and a low monthly cost.
Can you get broadband on a 30-day contract?
You can get broadband on a pay-as-you-go month-to-month contract, but these types of plans can be quite hard to find.
At the moment, NOW Broadband is a good choice if you want broadband without a contract. With their Super Fibre plan, you can get average download speeds of up to 67 Mbps on a 30-day contract. And if you want ultrafast broadband, you could also consider Virgin Media, as they offer download speeds up to 516 Mbps on a month-to-month basis.
The downside to most 30-day broadband deals is you’ll have to pay a much higher upfront cost – this is true of NOW Broadband’s pay as you go plans. However, when you buy one of these deals, you’ll still get everything you need to get online, including a Wi-Fi router.
How to save money on broadband as a student
There are a few different ways to save money on broadband as a student.
- Look for student broadband deals specifically. These deals will sometimes have a lower monthly cost, as well as a shorter contract.
- Avoid broadband deals with any extras, like TV channels or landline phone minutes. If you do watch to watch channels like TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport), you can normally access specific channels online, using a streaming service, which should be cheaper than paying for a big TV bundle.
- Avoid paying for ultrafast fibre broadband if you don’t really need extremely fast download speeds. We’ve explained how to work out what download speeds you need in the next section.
- Share the cost of your broadband plan with your flatmates, if possible.
- Make note of when your contract ends, if you enter into a contract. Often, when a broadband contract expires, the monthly cost will rise considerably. You should enter into a new contract immediately after the old agreement expires, if you can, to avoid this issue.
What broadband speed do I need as a student?
To avoid slow downloads, buffering, and dropouts when using online learning apps or Zoom, you’ll need a quality broadband connection with good download and upload speeds.
However, at the same time, you don’t want to spend more than you need to on broadband – ultrafast fibre broadband deals are very expensive.
The download and upload speeds you need depend on two things:
- How you use the internet – do you do lots of large downloads, and stream videos in 4K on a regular basis?
- How many people live at home – how much data are you uploading/downloading at any given moment, across the entire household?
If you’re living alone, a download speed of about 35-50 Mbps will be plenty, even if you like to watch videos while on a Zoom call at the same time, for example.
On the other hand, with 2-3+ people using the same broadband connection, you might want a download speed of at least 100 Mbps, or maybe even more, depending on how everyone uses the internet.
You can use our bandwidth needs calculator to get a better idea of what download and upload speeds you really need.
Also, you can use this tool to find out what broadband speeds are available at your address.
Fortunately, all broadband plans now come with unlimited data, so you don’t need to worry about your overall data usage when shopping for a broadband plan.
How much should I expect to spend on broadband each month?
The amount of money you’ll spend on broadband each month mostly depends on the speeds you’re paying for.
If you buy superfast broadband, with a download speed of about 36 Mbps, you could pay as little as £20 a month. However, if you want ultrafast fibre broadband, expect to pay £45-£50 per month, or even more.
In general, for one person, you might like to budget £25 per month for your broadband bill. If you’re living with other students, you’ll be able to pool your money, buy a faster broadband plan, and end up paying about £10-£15 per month, depending on how many flatmates you have.
What happens when you buy a broadband deal?
Fortunately, the process of buying a WiFi deal these days is quite straightforward.
If you’ve never bought a broadband plan before, here’s how it works:
- You proceed through the checkout on the broadband provider’s website. They will ask for your address, when you want the connection live, and your personal details. You will need to use your university email address if signing up for a special student broadband deal.
- If you are currently with a different broadband provider, you’ll need to cancel the old contract, but only if you’re switching to or from Hyperoptic or Virgin Media. All other providers are able to contact the old company and cancel the connection on your behalf.
- Your broadband provider will send you a Wi-Fi router in the mail.
- The provider will be in touch if they need to do anything special to activate your broadband connection, such as sending an engineer to your address.
- Once the connection is live, and you have your router, you’re ready to set it up and get online. You can contact your provider if you have any issues at this point.
Alternative ways to get online
If most home broadband plans look too inflexible, or too expensive, you could consider getting online with a 4G router or a 5G router.
These devices have a SIM card, and connect to 4G or 5G, just like your phone. This means they’re very easy to set up, and can provide fast, reliable internet in urban areas in particular.
The Three 4G Hub is a good, cheap option, available on a month-to-month contract. On the other hand, the Three 5G Hub is more expensive, and isn’t available on a short-term deal, but does offer very fast download and upload speeds.
You’ve reached the end of our student broadband buyer’s guide.
Remember, before buying a broadband plan, it’s crucial to consider how long you want the contract to be. Even though short-term broadband plans often have a very high upfront cost, it’s normally better to pay this initial charge than to risk having to pay a cancellation fee, which could end up being very expensive. Normally, to cancel a broadband plan, you’ll have to pay about 50% of the remaining value of the contract.
If you’re not sure which provider or plan to choose, feel free to leave a comment below, or ping us on Twitter.
About the author
Tom is the founder of Broadband Savvy. When he’s not writing about broadband, you’ll find him walking his dog (Rex) or playing agar.io.