THE BLOG

The Superfast and the Furious

09/09/2014 14:55 BST | Updated 05/11/2014 10:59 GMT

With another wave of Generation X due to start their first term at university next month, mobile and broadband providers will be aiming to ensure they are offering the best 'student offer' out there. But, with an army of 'digital natives' to appease, they have a tough job on their hands.

This generation has been brought up in a digital world and is highly connected, having had lifelong use of communication and media technology including smartphones, tablets, social networking and instant messaging.

To say that consumers have become discerning when it comes to their mobile broadband service would be an understatement, particularly for Generation X. Smart phones are the norm and expectations are high when it comes to this particular group who expect fast, reliable broadband performance anytime, anywhere. They need to be connected all the time and are less forgiving of bad accessibility, expecting a flawless service - no bad patches, temporary outages or bad spots.

So, after flying the nest and with university halls Wi-Fi notoriously 'iffy', making sure they secure the best broadband deal is particularly important. At some university halls of residence, 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps connections are available. As a result, it is worth doing some research to see what previous residents said about the broadband connection.

Whether it's for research or, more likely, to catch up with the latest episode TV shows, having an internet connection that doesn't cut out is as important to student life as knowing where the local student union bar is located.

Broadband is essential for students so where do you start when it comes to getting a broadband package that caters to all your online needs and doesn't break the bank?

The need for speed

When setting up a broadband connection for the first time, there are a few things that need to be considered before deciding what broadband speed you need:

It's a numbers game - How many people will be using the internet connection? If it is between one and three then a connection is needed that is both fast and plentiful when it comes to usage levels. If a connection is shared between more than three people, it might be worth getting more than one connection or looking into the more expensive, faster packages.

Usage - It is important to consider how much data will be used. Those that stream films, spend hours on Spotify or play online games are likely to require a hefty broadband package, similar to the one used in the family home. However, don't try to penny pinch with a 10GB monthly allowance, and in my opinion, unlimited usage packages for students are the answer.

Wireless, fibre optic or mobile internet - Those with heavy broadband usage in a student house may need to select a fibre optic connection, which hopefully offers superfast connection speeds (30 Mbps and faster). Wireless Wi-Fi is also a necessity for most, allowing students the ability to move around a home and have continuous access. Those who don't want or need either of these options might want to look into getting a mobile broadband connection. Mobile broadband routers are not only available from cheap battery powered units. They are also available from proper routers that are designed to be left on and work with 4G (if available). However, the downside of mobile usage allowances are not that generous.

Location, Location, Location - While daytime TV property shows may be a staple of student life, broadband location is crucial. A distance of 100 metres can be the difference between 152 Mbps and 1 Mbps if not chosen carefully.

The whole nine yards? - Decide what is wanted from a package; broadband, TV and telephone? This depends on the people in the house, so get to know fellow flatmates and make an informed decision. There is no point paying for a service that is unlikely to be used. For viewing live TV, a TV licence is required so a household that just uses Netflix or Amazon Instant Video can save more money.

What contract? Another key factor to consider is how long the broadband contract will last. The majority of packages will be for a minimum of a year. There are numerous nine month student broadband deals, but double check the small print and the latest 12 month offers which can sometimes be cheaper, even if you cancel in the tenth month.

Is cheaper always better? Cash-strapped students may be on a tight budget, but sometimes going for the cheaper option can initially cost more in the long run. Spend time doing research when signing up for broadband and use sites like ours to compare deals: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/isps.html

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