Joe Levi, founder of Studentmoneysaver.com tells us how a bit of pre-planning saved one student household a lot more money than the other…

The internet is every student’s life line! They use it for social networking, watching the latest episodes of entourage and occasionally researching for their degrees!

This is why it’s important to get your contract right when setting up broadband when you move into your own house or flat. We asked two students what their experience was with setting up their broadband in second year.

Broadband Bliss – a tale of four girls and their love affair with o2 broadband!

Most student accommodation contracts start in July and run through until the following June. That usually means that it sits uninhabited for most of the summer, gathering dust bunnies and creaky cupboard doors.

However, that is the best time to sort out, not simply your broadband, but all your bills and utilities. Doing this means when you move in properly (usually in September) everything is ready and there’s no waiting around, which, especially with broadband is a problem. (We need our daily YouTube fix!!)

With thousands of students moving in and trying to get their broadband installed in the first few weeks of September, it’s understandable that getting a technician out straight away is difficult. You can often end up for weeks and months without internet which means your contract won’t start until it’sinstalled, which means it will run out later and you could end up incurring some nasty cut-off fees.

Getting your head around download usage limits

As we were four girls we used the internet religiously; mainly for kitten videos on YouTube. Whilst we didn’t use the internet for downloading music or software we opted for something with a large download capacity because we LOVED watch TV online. (A far cheaper option than getting Sky TV!) Viewing 25 web pages = 1 MB which works out at about 1 GB = approx 25 000, whilst an hour on BBC iPlayer = 600MB… If you only have a 10 GB that would soon be eaten up by iPlayer alone!!

Whilst four girls might be messy, we decided the best way to deal with the bills was to take one utility each and that way the responsibility was divided equally and no one was ever that much out of pocket!

We also decided to sort our utility bills out before we went our separate ways during the summer. That meant that when we arrived in September we didn’t have to think about anything and could simply whack on a music playlist on YouTube and unpack. What’s more, because all our contracts started in July, they finished in June and we did not incur any fees for cutting the service off at 10 months which is what would’ve happened if we’d set it up in September.

What we went for…

I went for o2 for existing customers; which is £6.25 a month for 12 months (it’s actually £12.50 a month but the first 6 months are free). The download speed was 20MB and the download limit is unlimited but falls under a fair usage agreement (which means that once you exceed 100GB it starts slow down your connection considerable.)

And some other recommendations:

Here are a couple other cheap standalone broadband contracts that I found. They include Plusnet at: it averages out at £8.57 a month (that’s £6.49 a month and a £25 connection fee). With that you get 20MB download speed but only a 10GB allowance which is worth bearing in mind if there are a lot of you or you like watching TV or downloading music on the internet.

And Orange broadband: which is £15 a month with 20MB download speed and unlimited download usage. However it’s worth bearing in mind that this is an 18 month contract. (You can also get it for £10 if you are an Orange customer)
And one last thing, it’s also worth noting that for most broadband contracts a phone line is needed.

Broadband blooper.

While our contract for our house started in July (standard for student property contracts) we didn’t move in until the second week of September. We had to reactivate the phone line before we could get our internet connected. This took WEEKS… BT was booked up for weeks and weeks and getting an appointment was like gold dust.

After finally getting the phone line connected we wanted internet as soon as possible and opted for the cheapest option out there, which was Plusnet at the time. However, we definitely didn’t think it through that much… six boys downloading music and videos a plenty it soon totted up our data usage and the 10 GB disappeared within the first week.

Maxing out your data

We maxed out our 10GB pretty quickly. Plusnet offers you the option to “add on” packages at about £5 for another 5GB, our broadband bill soon started to really add up as we kept on adding more and more, especially during exam periods when internet was essential and we didn’t want to trudge to the overflowing computer clusters or library.
Bills, bills and boys!

Trying to coordinate 6 boys is a pain at the best of times, like what to eat for tea. When it came to bills it was the worst! One guy was lumbered with all the bills coming out of his account and half of the house would always be late with payments… which led to quite a few red letters warning us!

Student life can be stressful (yes even with all the lie-ins and late nights) but having all these extra bills hanging over our heads simply added to this. Not pleasant at all! The following year we all learnt from our mistakes and were a lot better at shopping around for contracts that were good value as well as suiting our needs (well most of us!!).

Watch out for contracts

Broadband contracts tend to be 12 months long. The only problem that we encountered was because we didn’t get our contract started until mid-October we had to face charges for cutting off both the broadband contract and phone line early when we left the house in June! What a pain!

Whilst there are 9 month contracts out there, it’s worth noting that the monthly payments will be slightly higher and there won’t be as a wide range about as the 12 month contracts.

One final note from Joe and Jaime

Another option is getting a bundle with TV, home phone and broadband. Sky is the number one company who do this, as well as Virgin Media. These can be great if there are enough of you to divide the bills up, or if you’re willing to pay out a bit more as digital TV can be pricey! It’s all about thinking about what your needs are and searching out the best deal that suits them; which isn’t always the one that pops up at the top of the comparison table!

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