There are many ISPs to choose from varying in price, speed and download limit, below is a table of some of the 12 month or less contract ISPs with Unlimited downloads. These packages are broadband only for the main part, although when the extra service is at no extra cost I have included them. If the extra services cost more to get a discount they have been excluded from the table.

Remember when signing up for your broadband to do so via Quidco to save yourself that bit extra!

Provider DL UL DL Limit Contract BT Line Cost Wireless Router
Be Unlimited 24 1.3 Unlimited 1 year / 3 mths Required £22 Yes
Be Value 12 1.3 Unlimited 1 year Required £17 Yes
O2 The Basics 8 1.3 20GB 1 year Required £13.50* Yes
O2 The All Rounder 20 1.3 Unlimited 1 year Required £17.50* Yes
O2 The Works 24 2.5 Unlimited 1 year Required £21.00* Yes
AOL Broadband Only 8 1.3 10 GB 1 mth Required, can be included in certain packages £15.30 Yes
Plusnet 8 1.3 10GB (60GB) None Required or Included £6.49 (£11.49) Yes, £25 activation fee.

*O2 will discount you quite considerably if you are an O2 customer, at a minimum you need someone with O2 Pay as You Go who tops up more than £10 every three months!

** O2 offer 2 months free at the time of writing.

I have not included BT on this table due to its low download limits and 18 month contacts, which may be unsuitable for students living in a house only for a maximum of 12 months. Sky has also been excluded as you are required to join up to Sky TV as well, the same is true of the cheaper Virgin Media options – If TV is something you are interested in then these offers may well be worth considering. Talk talk broadband similar to BT offers only 18 month contracts.

My Recommendation

My recommendation this year has changed, from Be Broadband who were my favourites last year to O2, even without owning an O2 phone they offer a great value service, reliable and high and unlimited downloads. Their routers are just as reliable as the Be Boxes, the only downside is a 1 year contract, but even factoring this in, on certain packages they still come out cheaper than the comparable Be Broadband package used for only 9-11 months. I would recommend the O2 Premium package as in my experience most houses will not receive much higher than 20megs so you will just be wasting your money to achieve 24 megs, and even if you can unless you are a prolific downloader I see no reason to have the extra 4 megs.

As a second recommendation Be Broadband are still reliable, despite the difference in price.

I would also recommend looking at these websites to help decide what to get, especially if you are unable to receive Be or O2 broadband:

  • DSL Zone UKgives good ratings on Broadband ISPs service (Be and O2 do fairly well in this, however AOL and Tiscali do not!)
  • Samknow Broadband will also give you a good idea of what services are available in your area and for your phone number.

2 Responses to Choosing Broadband for a Student House (2011 – 2012)

  1. [...] This article is now out of date! We have written a new Student Broadband (2009/2010) article [...]

  2. Hi David,

    Well-researched! I’ve spent the last week or two getting together student broadband deals and the most striking thing I’ve noticed is how they obfuscate the actual cost involved!

    Eg. Orange Max was the worst culprit, claiming to be “from £6.50″, whereas the actual cost was £17 per month and the reduced price is only for Orange customers. Virgin are just as confusing, with the package costing less *with* line rental.

    One thing that is worth mentioning when recommending O2 and Be as you did – the advertised speeds are likely to fall short, as they get slower the further users are from the exchange. At least with Virgin (and increasingly BT) you do actually get what you pay for (at uni I’m on V myself so can attest to this!)

    Totally agree with only recommending 12 month/unlimited contracts to students btw!

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