Student broadband: Best deals for 2022

Last updated: 7 September 2022   By Julia Kukiewicz

Broadband for students is evolving to include more rolling contracts and mobile broadband options.

Students have a particular set of needs when it comes to shopping for broadband deals since they are only at university during term time.

Even so, 12-month fixed term home broadband deals can still be an option alongside 4G/5G home broadband or mobile broadband deals.

Choosing the right student broadband option depends on the household involved and how much a student can afford to pay upfront.

student broadband sharing
Credit: Antonio Guillem/

Do you need student broadband?

Students moving into some types of student accommodation will need to organise their own broadband connection.

Shared student houses where bills are paid by the students directly will usually need to sign up to a broadband deal or use mobile broadband as their home internet connection.

If you're living in one of the following accommodation types, you might not need to organise your own broadband:

  1. Accommodation managed by the university or a management company where broadband from one provider is included in the rent or available at an additional cost
  2. A shared student house where broadband is included in an "all-inclusive" rent arrangement

In these situations, students may be stuck with the broadband provider the accommodation is signed up with, although it could be possible to supplement the home broadband that is provided with mobile broadband - more on this option later.

Student broadband options

For students who need to organise their own home broadband, there are four main options:

  • Dedicated student broadband deals
  • Normal fixed home broadband deals
  • Normal rolling home broadband deals
  • Mobile broadband (4G and 5G)

Depending on which university a student goes to and whereabouts in the country it is located, the individual options may vary.

For example, students living in busy cities may have more full fibre broadband options for speeds of up to 1Gb while those in smaller towns may have more limited choices.

With that in mind, let's look at the main options in more detail.

Dedicated student broadband deals

A couple of broadband providers still target students with dedicated broadband deals.

These are less common than they used to be, and we don't often see nine-month contract terms for students who just live in their accommodation during the academic year.

There are two major providers offering dedicated student broadband deals:

BT offer 12-month plans to students with a £29.99 set-up fee.

These are broadband only deals with no landline included, and prices will rise in March each year by CPI + 3.9%:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fibre Essential 36Mb average £28.99 £29.99 12 months
Fibre 1 50Mb average £29.99 £29.99 12 months
Fibre 2 67Mb average £33.99 £29.99 12 months

BT's student deals are online exclusives and students will need to be able to prove their status when signing up.

It's also worth noting that BT's tariff list does include full fibre broadband deals of up to 900Mb, so students with accommodation in areas that can receive fibre to the premises (FTTP) services from BT can get even faster speeds.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media student broadband only deals are offered in 12-month or 30-day varieties with speeds of up to M500 (516Mb) available.

Here are some examples:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
M200 Fibre Broadband 213Mb average £30 £35 12 months
M200 Fibre Broadband 213Mb average £39 Free 1 month
M500 Fibre Broadband 516Mb average £40 £35 12 months
M500 Fibre Broadband 516Mb average £49 Free 1 month

So, while there's a big difference in pricing between taking the rolling contract and the 12-month option, there's no set-up fee for the more flexible package, bringing the pricing of that down a little.

It's also worth noting that students can access selected TV and broadband bundles from Virgin Media for a more comprehensive entertainment experience (these also come with a landline).

Virgin's student broadband is only available to customers in Virgin Media areas, so that might be a sticking point for some student households.

Standard home broadband

If the dedicated student broadband options don't appeal or you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are a handful of providers who offer 12-month plans.

These are some of the cheapest superfast fibre deals available right now:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
67Mb Fibre Broadband: 12 months 67Mb average £20 £9.95 12 months
Super Fibre 63Mb average £21 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £24/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Superfast Fibre 35Mb 35Mb average £31.95 £8.95 12 months
offer Offer: Loyalty Discount Club (worth £49.95)
Fibre + Evening & Weekend calls 36Mb average £25 Free 12 months

While these include a landline, that part of the package doesn't have to be used and students may prefer to do without a home phone to avoid running up hefty call bills.

There are also smaller, local providers such as Community Fibre (London ISP) and Hyperoptic (covering 900,000 premises in urban areas across the UK) who have cheap broadband deals available that could be ideal for students.

More providers offer 18-month and 24-month broadband contracts, yet these could be risky for students who don't know if they are going to live in the same house next year.

Ending a broadband contract early will result in early termination fees, meaning the cost to cancel can be quite substantial.

If there are multiple people living in a student house and using the broadband, considering faster speeds may be a good idea, so compare fixed line home broadband options to get a clear picture of what's available in your area.

Rolling broadband contracts

Some broadband deals don't require customers to sign up to a long-term contract and can instead be taken on a rolling month by month basis.

These are ideal for students who can simply cancel the contract when they go home for the summer, but they may be pricier.

These are some of the cheapest fibre broadband deals on rolling contracts:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Super Fibre (No contract) 63Mb average £21 £70 1 month
Fast 50Mb (Monthly Rolling) 57Mb average £30 £39 1 month
Superfast Fibre 35Mb (No contract) 35Mb average £41.95 £33.90 1 month
offer Offer: Loyalty Discount Club (worth £49.95)

Again, localised providers like Hyperoptic and YouFibre also offer rolling deals.

Now and Direct Save Telecom have different approaches to making up the costs on rolling broadband.

While Now charges a hefty set-up fee of £65 but the same monthly rate, Direct Save increases the monthly rate and charges a (lower) upfront fee.

So, students should weigh up the costs of taking a rolling contract compared with a 12-month contract, along with the benefits of flexibility.

For instance, students in their first year may prefer flexibility to cheaper broadband, or those living with housemates they're uncertain about may want the flexibility to end a contract and move quickly.

Find out more about home broadband without a contract.

Mobile broadband

Students can also choose mobile broadband to get them online at their student house. This could be in the form of:

  1. A dedicated home mobile broadband router
  2. Using a wi-fi hotspot or mobile dongle

The major difference between the two options is that a 4G or 5G router is designed to be used in a fixed location and serve a whole house in the way a traditional broadband router would. Meanwhile, wi-fi hotspots and dongles are personal devices aimed at one person or a small group.

The cheapest mobile broadband router offer on a rolling contract comes from Three. Here it is alongside a similar mobile broadband deal from EE:

Device Data Monthly price Initial price Contract term
5G Hub Unlimited £24 Free 1 month
4GEE Home Router 3 Unlimited £50 £150 1 month

Note: Vodafone also offer a home mobile broadband solution called the GigaCube - enquire direct.

As the table above demonstrates, Three is the cheaper provider, with EE charging more per month and imposing a high set-up fee for their 1-month rolling deals.

There are cheaper plans available with longer contracts but students may not want to be tied into those.

In addition, EE offer limited data plans on their home routers which can be cheaper, yet data-hungry student households run the risk of using up their data allowance before the month is over.

One final thing to note about the deals above: Three's is a 5G home broadband router while EE only provide their 5G model on an 18-month contract.

Learn more about 5G mobile broadband in our dedicated guide.

Finally, students can get online with normal mobile broadband devices.

This isn't optimised for home use as the routers discussed above are, but these devices are often cheaper and can serve as a decent alternative to fixed line broadband with a few caveats.

One brilliant point about traditional mobile broadband devices like personal hotspots and dongles is that they can go wherever you go.

For students, that doesn't only mean day to day activities of going to coffee shops to work or meeting with friends and sharing a wi-fi signal, but it also means taking out a longer-term contract is a viable option here. The mobile broadband device simply comes with you when you move to another student house or go home for the summer.

Here are some mobile hotspot devices with unlimited monthly data from the four major UK mobile providers:

Device Data Monthly price Initial price Contract term
Huawei 4G Plus MiFi Unlimited £11 for 6 months, then £22.00 Free 24 months
4G Mobile Hotspot Unlimited £30 Free 24 months
Huawei 4G Pocket Hotspot 2020 Unlimited £36.38 Free 24 months
4GEE Wifi Mini 2020 Unlimited £50 Free 24 months

Again, Three is the cheapest option and EE are the most expensive, with their rivals occupying the middle ground.

If we then look at 5G mobile broadband deals, we can compare unlimited deals from Vodafone and EE:

Device Data Monthly price Initial price Contract term
5G Mobile Hotspot Unlimited £35 £30 24 months
5GEE WiFi Unlimited £55 £10 24 months

It's fair to say we're not quite at the point where 5G mobile broadband is an affordable replacement for home broadband, nor has 5G coverage expanded enough to make it a viable option for all students across the country.

However, once the technology beds in and coverage becomes more widespread, this could easily change and 5G may become the go-to for students looking for broadband while at university.

Compare mobile broadband deals to see the best prices for your needs.

How to choose a student broadband deal

Before taking out a new broadband contract, there are a few things that all student households should consider carefully.

All the student broadband options we've discussed in this guide have their pros and cons, and they will appeal to different student households.

Here are the pros of fixed line home broadband for students:

  • Usually cheaper option on 12-month contract
  • Unlimited data
  • Rolling contracts available with higher upfront costs

On the other hand, there are some notable issues:

  • Fixed term contracts will result in early termination fees when a student goes home for the summer
  • Superfast deals may be available for 12-month contracts, but faster broadband deals are usually on longer contracts (the notable exception is Hyperoptic yet they are not widely available)
  • One person must be responsible for the direct debit which could lead to conflict in student households and requires effective budget

Even with the cancellation fees, fixed line home broadband may be the best option for those looking for cheap student broadband.

Meanwhile, 4G or 5G mobile broadband has its benefits:

  • Available wherever there is a 4G or 5G mobile signal
  • Some 1-month rolling contracts available
  • Some unlimited data options available

On the other hand, there are problems here too:

  • Higher upfront costs
  • Higher monthly costs
  • Many have data limits
  • Speeds may be slower than desired on 4G

The options for student broadband can also depend on where we live. Fixed line broadband may not be available at our student address or 5G may not be live in our area yet.

It's frustrating for students to realise their broadband options aren't as extensive or economical as they are at home, but there are deals out there. It's just a case of deciding which option is best for them.

Summary: Student deals evolving

The days of student-specific broadband deals seem to have disappeared, but other affordable options are sprouting up to take their place.

No single option is perfect, and students will need to carefully consider the pros and cons for their circumstances in the same way they do when choosing a student bank account.

Here are a couple of questions to ask about your student broadband:

  1. Will one person be using it or the whole house? If it's multiple people, faster speeds and unlimited data could be crucial.
  2. Do you want a rolling contract or would you be comfortable on a fixed term broadband deal? Bear in mind that cancellation fees may apply.
  3. How many people have a say in the home broadband and who will the bill-payer be? If it's going to be a contentious issue, choosing mobile broadband for an individual could be a safer choice.

For many, going to university is the first time they will have made these types of choices and been responsible for household bills, so understanding student budgeting and other financial costs of living can help.

Students should try to compare broadband deals ahead of leaving for university if possible, just to get an idea of what's available in their university location. This will make the final decision easier at a time when it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of things going on.


13 September 2011

You should probably add that high speed Virgin broadband is only available in cable areas - otherwise you get a much worse deal. Also BT Infinity is not a bad deal if available, because especially large student houses will definitely need the speed.

I worked for nine months at Tiscali/Talk Talk (don't touch them with a bargepole!) so I do know what I am talking about.

3 September 2011

I would add caution to the praise given to O2.

I say this only because although O2 began as almost a re-branded Be product (O2 own Be) their current product
is akin to other mass providers. The legacy O2 broadband is not available to new or returning customers. I have
had both and Be are outstanding.

5 July 2011

I'm looking at providers at the moment. Sharing as a 5 bed, and we often play games or stream movies via sky player. I've had problems with ADSL connections in the past where streaming movies can be very stop-start and becomes impossible to watch when others are using internet at the same time. Has anyone experienced this with O2? I know that Virgin doesn't suffer this problem as bandwidth is better on optical lines, but looking for a cheaper option.

19 April 2011

Hey, just to validate this claim, I've had O2 for 2 years in a student house, no problems and great customer service when I was starting up.. Thumbs up for O2! :)

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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