As a student, you might not be living in your second or third-year house for more than nine months. This means that unless you really really get on with your flatmates and you know you’re going to stay in the same house, it’s worth shopping around for a student broadband deal. 

So-called student broadband deals vary between three month contracts, nine month contracts and 30-day rolling plans which give you the flexibility that a 12 or 18 month contract might not. 

We’ve taken a look at some of the best student broadband deals on offer and have suggested some tips on how you can avoid paying for bandwidth you won’t actually get to use. 

Student Broadband: Best deals on Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, Tesco, Direct Save, Eclipse and Zen

Student Broadband - compare packages

Line Rental - do I need it? 

First things first - before you start looking at broadband packages for your student house you’ll need to figure out who you’re paying for phone line rental.

In most cases you can't have broadband without paying for a phone line to carry it, and in most cases you will need to pay line rental to your broadband provider, but some providers let you shop around separately for your phone line.

Some ISPs these days will offer you line rental as well as broadband, and may bung in free Evening and Weekend calls too. Whether you actually use the landline to make calls or not is irrelevant - unless your ISP explicitly says there’s no need to pay line rental you’ll have to have it.

Check for the smallprint on line rental rates - some ISPs offer discounts on line rental if you pay for a year up front. This would effectively see you paying less than if you paid it on a monthly basis, but then you’re also paying for line rental that you’re not using if you moved out after nine months.

Work out what you’ll actually be paying every month and weigh up whether you’d be better off paying for a year and potentially missing out on two or three months, compared to how much you’d save.

Student Broadband: Best deals on Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, Tesco, Direct Save, Eclipse and Zen

How much would I save on line rental if I paid up front?

Using BT as example, their Line Rental Saver offering sees you paying the equivalent of £11.75/month.

Otherwise, the cost of BT line rental is £15.45/month. Over nine months, £15.45/month works out at £139.05. 

This is just a few pounds more than you’d save if you took out the Line Rental Saver deal, which is a £141 lump sum. So for nine months you’re probably better off avoiding this deal. For any longer, then you might want to consider it.

Looking at Tesco Broadband’s offer, Broadband Only costs £12/month on its own but doesn’t come with line rental. 

The next package up, Tesco Broadband with Evening & Weekend calls does, with line rental costing £13.75/month - cheaper per month than BT by almost £1 (woo-hoo). Whether you actually use the landline calls or not is largely irrelevant as you’ll need to pay line rental to use what you actually want, which is the broadband.

In our package breakdowns below, we’ve focussed on services which come with line rental included. Where it’s not included, it will be because you’re not required to pay it. 

What else should I consider? 

Consider what you're going to be using your broadband for. Read our feature on traffic management to get an idea of what services ISPs might prioritise or restrict.

If your university has a great IT facility and you're happier working there after you've checked out a pile of books from the library then you might be better off with a basic broadband connection in the home rather than faster, more expensive one. By the same token, if your university has a slow connection you might want to consider paying extra for a superfast service at home.

Student Broadband: Best deals on Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, Tesco, Direct Save, Eclipse and Zen

Virgin Media Student Broadband

Virgin Media offers a nine month broadband deals aimed squarely at students. Students can opt for up to 30Mbps and 60Mbps Virgin Media broadband either on its own, with phone calls bundled, TV services bundled or all three together.

Focussing purely on the Broadband Only package - meaning you don’t have to pay line rental - the prices for Virgin Media Student Broadband break down as follows:

Virgin Media Student Broadband 30Mbps

  • Download speed: up to 30Mbps
  • Downloads: unlimited downloads
  • Price: £22.50/month
  • Line rental: N/A
  • Install fee: £49.95
  • Total monthly cost: £22.50/month

Virgin Media Student Broadband 60Mbps

  • Download speed: up to 60Mbps
  • Downloads: unlimited downloads
  • Price: £27.50/month
  • Line rental: N/A
  • Install fee: £49.95
  • Total monthly cost: £27.50/month

While there’s an installation fee of £49.95 for all packages, there is no obligation to take line rental for Virgin Media’s Student Broadband. This saves you £14.99/month which is what you’d normally pay for non-student broadband. 

Note that from October 1 onwards, Virgin Media will be increasing the rates of its broadband only student broadband buy £2.50. So the 30Mbps and 60Mbps packages would cost £25.00/month and £29.00/month respectively. 

Virgin Media's traffic management policy currently slows down P2P and Usenet traffic. 

BT Broadband - 9 month student broadband deals

BT recently launched a pair of 9 month broadband deals aimed specifically at students. You can sign up for old school ADSL-based broadband or the next-gen fibre-based Infinity service if you’re lucky enough to be living in a connected area. 

You’ve got the option of having the BT Home Hub 4 wireless router thrown in too. The Home Hub 4 is free but there’s a small fee (£6.95) for post and packaging. 

Both of these bundle deals come with unlimited Weekend Calls so if you’re that strange breed of student who prefers to call home on a landline phone instead of a mobile you’ll be pleased to know that you get weekend calls to 01, 02 and 03 UK landlines plus 0845 and 0870 numbers. 

The BT student broadband deals work out as follows: 

BT Broadband

  • Download speed: up to 24Mbps
  • Downloads: Unlimited
  • Price: £16.00/month 
  • Line rental: £15.45/month
  • Install fee: £30
  • Total monthly cost: £31.45/month

BT Infinity

  • Download speed: up to 38Mbps
  • Downloads: Unlimited 
  • Price: £20.00/month
  • Line rental: £15.45/month
  • Install fee: £30
  • Total monthly cost: £35.45/month

Plusnet: 30-day rolling contracts for students

The Plusnet Essentials and Plusnet Unlimited packages don’t have any long-term obligations. You’re not required to sign up for 12, 18 or 24 months so you can have broadband for as long as you need it.

Though there are discounts, such as a waiving of the £25 install fee if you stay for over 12 months, you’re not contractually obliged to sign up for a year. There's a £5.99 delivery fee for the free wireless router (a Technicolor 582n) but you're not obliged to take this.

Flexibility make Essentials and Unlimited good options for student households and there’s a discount on the first three months of both packages. So saying you’re only living in a house for nine months, you’ll only be paying the full rate for two thirds of the time that you’re living there.

On top of broadband you’ll also need to pay line rental which works out at £12.99/month. However you’re only required to pay line rental for however long you’re at the house. Prices for Plusnet break down as follows:

Plusnet Essentials

  • Download speed: up to 16Mbps
  • Downloads: 10GB, unlimited use between midnight-8:00am
  • Price: £8.49/month 
  • Line rental: £14.50/month
  • Install fee: £25
  • Total monthly cost: £23.99/month

Plusnet Unlimited

  • Download speed: up to 16Mbps
  • Downloads: Unlimited 
  • Price: £12.49/month for the first three months
  • Line rental: £14.50/month
  • Install fee: £25
  • Total monthly cost: £27.99/month for the first three months

Student Broadband: Best deals on Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, Tesco, Direct Save, Eclipse and Zen

Tesco Broadband Only: 30-day rolling contract 

Tesco Broadband Only can be taken either on a 12-month annual basis or as a 30-day rolling contract.

Taking out a 30 day contract with Tesco will see you required to pay a one off £40 set up cost which would otherwise be waived if you took a year-long contract. The monthly costs of Tesco Broadband are otherwise the same. 

You also get a wireless router included free so this could be a good option if you don’t already have a router.

Currently, Tesco is also offering money off the cost of its broadband for a 12-month period. This discount applies whether you’re taking the broadband on a monthly or annual basis, so it’s ideal for students in this sense.

Tesco Broadband can be taken with line rental which costs £13.75/month. Evening and Weekend calls come included with the line rental as standard. Should you want to, you can add Anytime calls to Tesco Broadband for an extra £4.50/month. Otherwise, the total cost for Tesco Broadband with line rental included works out as:


Tesco Broadband Only 

Download speed: up to 14Mbps
Downloads: unlimited downloads
Price: £12.00/month for the first 12 months (£16 thereafter)
Line rental: N/A
Install fee: £40.00
Total monthly cost: £12.00/month

Direct Save Telecom: No Contract Broadband

Direct Save Telecom offers a broadband on a no contract basis. While not explicitly marketed at students, this flexible offer means you’ll be able to effectively pick the length of your contract. If you want broadband for 9 months or more (or less) then you’ll be sorted with Direct Save Telecom.

You’ve got the option of taking a light package with a 20GB cap or a heavier unlimited package. You can also add varying degrees of landline calls with basic Weekend calls to UK landlines thrown in for free. 

As most students are likely to have a mobile phone, we’ve picked the two basic broadband bundles here with the weekend calls. If you want to add Evening & Weekend calls or Anytime calls you can do so for an extra £2.55/month or £4.95/month. 

With no installaion fee, line rental for just under a tenner, Direct Save Telecom should prove popular with students who want a basic broadband package and to save the pennies. 

Direct Saved Telecom Broadband Basic

  • Download speed: up to 24Mbps
  • Downloads: Unlimited
  • Price: £11.95/month 
  • Line rental: £9.95/month
  • Install fee: N/A
  • Total monthly cost: £21.90/month

Direct Saved Telecom Broadband Family

  • Download speed: up to 38Mbps
  • Downloads: Unlimited 
  • Price: £16.95/month
  • Line rental: £9.95/month
  • Install fee: N/A
  • Total monthly cost: £26.90/month

Eclipse Internet: Home Select and Home Pro 1 Month Contracts 

Eclipse Internet’s Home Select and Home Pro services can be snapped up on single month rolling contracts as well as the standard 12 month contracts. 

Both Home Select and Home Pro are ADSL-based broadband services, meaning that you’ll get speeds of up 24Mbps depending on where your house is in relation to your local telephone exchange. 

Eclipse Line Rental costs £12.50/month and isn’t included with either of the packages. There is however no connection or set up fee. 

Eclipse Internet Home Select

  • Download speed: up to 24Mbps
  • Downloads: 50GB
  • Price: £20.50/month 
  • Line rental: £12.50/month
  • Install fee: N/A
  • Total monthly cost: £33.00/month

Eclipse Internet Home Pro

  • Download speed: up to 24Mbps
  • Downloads: 100GB 
  • Price: £30.50/month
  • Line rental: £12.50/month
  • Install fee: N/A
  • Total monthly cost: £43.00/month

Zen Internet: 30 day rolling contract

Zen Internet’s broadband services are offered on a 30-day rolling contract basis as standard. You’re only required to sign up for one month, after which you can be with Zen Internet for as long as you need to be.

Though line rental is not included as standard with Zen Internet they do offer a separate line rental package which costs £11.22/month. Again there is no long term obligation to use this, as you’re charged on a rolling monthly basis.

So with line rental combined, Zen Internet’s broadband services work out as follows:

Zen Lite

  • Download speed: up to 16Mbps
  • Downloads: 2GB
  • Price: £18.37/month
  • Line rental: £11.22/month
  • Install fee: Free
  • Total monthly cost: £29.59/month

Zen Active

  • Download speed: up to 16Mbps
  • Downloads: 100GB
  • Price: £25.52/month
  • Line rental: £11.22/month
  • Install fee: Free
  • Total monthly cost: £36.74/month

Zen Pro

  • Download speed: up to 16Mbps
  • Downloads: 200GB
  • Price: £35.74/month
  • Line rental: £11.22/month
  • Install fee: Free
  • Total monthly cost: £46.96/month

Student Broadband: Best deals on Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet, Tesco, Direct Save, Eclipse and Zen

Student Broadband: Anything else I should know?

In short, keep an eye out for the small print and make sure you’re not paying for anything you don’t need or use.

Think about how often you’d use your broadband, how many people you’re living with and what their web use habits are. If you’re moving in with people who don’t need or use the net so much, then you won’t need to get an expensive package with fast speeds and unlimited downloads.

But if you’ve got a mixture of people with different needs it might be better to get a bigger package to keep everyone happy.

Talk to your new flatmates about who wants want and come to an agreement on who pays what - you can split it equal ways or those who heavily use the internet can maybe pay a little more.

Main image: Univers beeldbanl/Flickr