Ultimate Guide to Buying Broadband

student broadband deals

When the Internet is down, a laptop is reduced to little more than a box. An expensive box, sure, but a box nonetheless. Not even a fun one that you can turn into a fort.

Let's face it the Internet is a genius. It's got the knowledge of Stephen Fry, only it's faster and dirtier.

The main providers all do pretty similar things, at pretty similar prices. While it's tempting to go by price alone, they do differ slightly, so find out what matters most for your house.

Scroll down to the bottom for a comparison of the top broadband packages out there.

Before you Start

There is one key thing nearly all houses will need before they can have a broadband connection… A landline! We are pretty sure this is the only reason these stone-age devices still exist.

If you do have a landline it is also worth checking how much it will be to add your broadband onto the line rental. This can sometimes work out as cheaper then finding a new provider.

If you have a phone that is currently disconnected it might cost to have it reconnected so make sure you get an extra £5 off your housemates just in case.

Living in London and want to avoid installation fees and the need for a landline? Try Relish. Order by 2pm and they will deliver that day for £20 or if you can holdout until the next day it will be free.


Student Broadband Deals

It is 2017, they can put probes on Mars and Usain Bolt can run 100m in less than 10 seconds, therefore it should not take half an hour to download one episode of Rick and Morty from Netflix. Speed is everything!!

To check if your speed is a.) what you are paying for and b.) the best you can get for the price, go to a dedicated broadband speed-checker and find out how your speed measures up.

Download Allowance

broadband download limit

You might think 'I never download' - but you do! Everyone does constantly! When you're reading articles, streaming programmes, composing Tweets, stalking ex's on Facebook – you are downloading data in the background. That's not to mention the odd TV series or fifty you know you are downloading.

Your download speed affects your gaming and streaming quality. The lower the download speed the more buffering you have to suffer.

Fortunately, literally every provider nowadays offers unlimited usage but if you are going for one of the cheaper or more obscure providers make sure you double-check.

Contract Length

broadband contract length

You don't want your broadband provider telling you this.

Whilst you’re at university you want to be particularly careful that you don’t get tied into any long-term contracts. If you're only staying in a house for nine-months, why pay for a twelve-month contract?

A lot of broadband providers offer a nine-month ‘Student Broadband’ package. These special deals usually run from late August and are typically withdrawn around October or November time, when most students will have settled into their digs. So if you don't see any offerings, don't worry they are yearly and providers will likely bring back a student-friendly contract before the next academic year. Check out Virgin and BT to start your search.

But fear not if you do get trapped in a 12-month contract! It can sometimes be cheaper to cancel and pay a small leaving fee then pay the remaining months’ bills. Call your provider and find out before making and decisions.

Extra Charges

broadband extra charges

Broadband is often advertised as "just £X a month!", which is usually an absurdly low figure. Until you notice the tiny asterisk which points out that you'll also need to pay for line rental at £15-ish pounds every month, and to even get set up in the first place, you'll have to pay a huge set-up fee.

TalkTalk, BT, and Sky all have free set-up costs, but watch out for line-rental.

Relish have no installation fees or line rental costs - they just come around and set up your router and away you go. The only thing to note is that should you choose a one month contract, they'll charge you for the router at £20 - but if you choose to stay with them over a month, this fee is waived.

Customer Service

broadband customer service

You know the customer service is truly awful when even the person on the end of phone seems to hate themselves. I hear that 'kill-me-now' voice with depressing frequency.

Everybody has his or her own take, but Virgin seems to have a pretty rough reputation while Sky does pretty well. The best you can do is ask your friends and course-mates, someone usually has a horror story which they relish relaying. At the very least, it'll be an entertaining ten minutes.

Who offers the best student broadband deal?

Unfortunately, this question is impossible to answer; one provider is yet to provide the best of everything.

Contracts and offerings change constantly - your best bet is to check Cable.co.uk, who are dedicated to keeping on top of every offer.

If only there were a table to help with this - oh, wait...

Provider Speed Download Limit Contract Length Installation Fee Price (incl. line rental Extras



12 months

£40.00 if you need Virgin Media installing or £20.00 if not (but often given free - watch out for the sales!)




Up to 40mb

Unlimited 12 months

None (£50 for no contract)

£20 per month

No installation or line rental needed - so no delays getting online! Just beware Relish currently operate in London only.




12 Months







12 Months



Free evening and weekend calls. £25 reward card.




12 Months

None, but for an extra £25 you can also have TV for the same monthly cost


Free calls between TalkTalk customers




12 Months



£50 cash back

John Lewis



12 Months



Unlimited evening and weekend calls


Up to 21mb


No Contract



Now TV Entertainment Pass

Cheapest: PlusNet

Fastest: Virgin