Guide to getting the best student broadband deal   

In partnership with Ofcom accredited broadband comparison site

Towards the end of your first year you’ll probably begin the exciting task of looking for private housing to rent in the area. As well as taking on the responsibility of utility bills (gas, electricity, telephone etc.) an essential consideration is finding a good broadband deal.

Broadband guarantees a constant, reliable internet connection where you live and is essential for supporting your studies, entertainment and helping to stay in touch with friends and family abroad using services such as Skype.  

Finding a good broadband deal can be difficult enough, but there are a number of additional factors to consider when looking for broadband for a shared student house. To help you find the best deal we have compiled the following FAQs.

What type of broadband can I receive in Bangor?

There are three main types of broadband you can obtain in Bangor. The most commonly available is Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) which delivers your broadband via your home’s telephone line.

Most ADSL broadband is around 17Mbps (that’s ‘megabits per second’). Although the actual speed you will receive is dependent on other factors, such as your distance from the telephone exchange. 

The second type is fibre optic broadband. Fibre optic broadband uses different cables to ADSL, so data can be transmitted much faster, giving you a faster internet connection (which can reach speeds of 152Mbps).

Fibre optic broadband can be accessed by more than two thirds of all homes in the UK and, after being rolled out in 2013, is available to most areas of Bangor.

The third most readily available type of broadband is mobile broadband. Whilst ADSL and fibre optic broadband rely on fixed-line connections, mobile broadband uses mobile phone signals, and can make use of provider’s 4G network.

You can access mobile broadband by attaching a portable USB modem (or ‘dongle’) to your computer or using a wi-fi hotspot (which is like a mobile broadband router) to connect your devices wirelessly. You can even use some smartphones to act as a wi-fi hotspot by ‘tethering’ your devices to it.

This can be particularly useful if you need broadband access whilst working or studying away on field trips, or on a placement.

Mobile broadband is generally more expensive than home broadband, and most packages come with data caps. Mobile broadband is only advisable if you have no other option, or you need a broadband connection when you’re out and about.

What broadband speed is best for a shared student house?

This depends on the number of people that will be sharing the connection. If you plan to share a house with several other people who are likely to want to access the internet at the same time, then it is advisable to opt for the highest speed broadband available. This should allow everyone to use the internet simultaneously without affecting the quality of the connection.

Fibre optic packages will likely offer you the fastest speed, but are generally more expensive than ADSL. Student houses that have lots of people streaming films, playing online games and downloading music (as well as studying), should certainly consider a fibre optic package.

The other important factor to consider is monthly download limit. Most broadband providers give you the option of choosing ‘unlimited’ broadband or a package with a set download allowance. If there will only be one or two of you using the internet then selecting a fixed data allowance should be fine and save you money.

However, if you’re living with a handful of others then it’s a good idea to choose an unlimited package. This will avoid penalties by your provider for going over the limit, not to mention arguments over who is tipping the download balance over the edge.

Watch out for that term ‘unlimited’ though – sometimes it’s not all it seems to be and there may be ‘fair usage’ limits. Only ‘truly unlimited’ deals have no restrictions on the amount of data you download, so if you think you and your housemates will be streaming endless movies and music, you’ll need to consider that.

What broadband speed can I receive where I live in Bangor?

The actual broadband speed you can achieve depends on exactly where you live in Bangor, so it important to check using your postcode.

When you check your postcode, you will receive an estimated speed for that area. Your actual broadband speed will differ depending on the time of day and how many people are using the connection.

Some providers limit broadband speeds during peak times (usually evenings and weekends) to ensure everyone in the area gets a steady connection.

Which is the best contract length?

The majority of internet service providers offer broadband on 12 and 18-month contracts. This might suit you if you and your housemates intend to stay at your student address during term time and throughout the holidays.

However, if you’re likely to return home for the summer or anticipate moving house at some point, then you might want to consider a shorter rolling contract. Several internet providers offer flexible broadband packages of one, three and nine months – some tailored specifically for students. They don’t necessarily always offer the best value, but it can be worth looking at these packages.

By taking a shorter contract you won’t be tied in to a service you might not use and, if you need to leave your contract early for any reason, you won’t have to pay a termination fee, which can be as much as all your remaining monthly payments in one lump sum.   

Tips to save money on your student broadband deal

Get a bundle  If you plan to purchase broadband, digital TV and phone services for your student home, then it may be worth looking into a broadband, TV and phone bundle to save you money.

Bundles can be a good idea if you’re sharing with a number of housemates – it means you can split the cost and have the convenience of dealing with just one company.

Switch to e-billing  As well as being able to check your account online at any time, you can save on average £35 a year with e-billing rather than paper billing each month.  

Get all your names on the contract  Some providers don’t allow this, but if possible try to get all your names listed. That way, there’s no chance any one person is left with outstanding bills in their name at the end of the contract.

Pay phone line rental up front - All UK ADSL and fibre optic broadband providers (apart for Virgin Media which is not available in Bangor yet) will require you to have an active landline. Line rental adds around £15 per month to the cost of your broadband; to save the most money try to pay for 12 months’ line rental in advance.

Compare broadband deals  The easiest way to save money on your student broadband is to make sure you source the best value deal in the first place. To compare broadband deals side by side, try an online comparison – but be sure to use an Ofcom approved comparison site to get the best information