What types of broadband are available to students?
Nowadays it would be hard to imagine going through college without access to fast, reliable broadband - whether it’s for help with assignments or catching up on all-important Netflix binges in your spare time.
Students have largely the same broadband options as everyone else, as outlined below, but there are some additional options - such as broadband with short-term contracts - which might be good for people on short-term leases.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband uses an existing home phone line to provide an internet connection of up to 24Mbps.
As this technology uses the phone line in your home, you’ll need a home phone line installed in order to avail of it. It’s also important to note that your distance from the nearest telephone exchange and the quality of your phone connection could impact your speed.
Cable broadband is another name for fibre broadband - with cable broadband, broadband is delivered to your home using fibre-optic cables. The fastest type of fibre connection is Fibre-to-the-Home, but Fibre-to-the-Cabinet is more common and can still offer speeds up to 360Mbps.
At present, cable broadband is available from many providers, such as eir, Digiweb, Magnet, Sky, Virgin Media, and Vodafone. The likes of SIRO, eir, enet and Virgin Media are continually working to roll out superfast speeds across Ireland, which means it’s getting easier and cheaper than ever to access high-speed internet.
However, in certain rural areas throughout the country, some fibre & superfast broadband packages still may not be available. If the broadband you want is not currently available in your area, consider the other types of broadband that are available - for example satellite broadband or ADSL - and see if one of these might work for you.
Fibre broadband is the quickest type of broadband connection, and as a result it can be more expensive than the likes of ADSL broadband.
With fibre broadband, broadband is delivered to your home using fibre-optic cables. The fastest type of fibre connection is Fibre-to-the-Home, which brings the fibre cables directly into your home - this can currently deliver speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.
Other connections are known as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet, which delivers fibre to your nearest cabinet and then usually uses copper cables to bring the connection to your home. Speeds from up to 100Mbps up to 360Mbps are available through these types of connections from the likes of eir, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone. The actual speed you get will depend on your provider and your distance from the cabinet.
Mobile broadband means mobile internet access which is provided to customers through a mobile phone signal.
As the technology used to provide mobile broadband is the same as the one that lets you use your mobile phone, many mobile network carriers offer mobile broadband via mobile dongles and 4G SIMs. Dongles can enable mobile broadband access on laptops and PCs, while 4G SIM cards can be used to gain access to the internet on a tablet.
Mobile broadband can be really useful, especially for people who need access to the internet on the move, however bear in mind that if your mobile phone signal is bad where you live, you’ll likely get poor mobile broadband signal, too.
You’ll also need to keep an eye on data allowances if you opt for a mobile broadband plan, as these can be quite low, and the charges for going above the limit tend to be steep.
Satellite broadband is set up in a household through the installation of a satellite dish, and provides speeds of up to 30Mbps.
Although it is slower than other types of broadband, the major benefit of satellite broadband is that it can provide an internet connection to any home - this can be particularly important in rural areas, where laying cables is not possible.
Unlike other broadband, satellite packages will have a cap on downloads - at the moment, these range from 8-50GB per month.
One of the the main providers of satellite broadband in Ireland is Europasat.
Wireless broadband is a term that’s widely used - some people use it to refer to broadband that you can connect to via WiFi (so multiple devices can be connected at any one time), while others use it as another way to describe mobile broadband.
When we’re talking about broadband that you can connect to via WiFi, this works by using a wireless router, which converts an incoming signal and transmits it throughout your home. This signal is then picked up by any wireless-enabled devices within the transmission area, enabling them to connect to the wireless broadband.
The vast majority of broadband providers these days will provide a router to allow you to connect many devices to your home broadband via WiFi.
How do I compare Student Broadband deals? What do I need to look out for?
When you’re comparing student broadband deals, there are lots of things to consider, such as:
- Price: This is probably the main factor for most broadband customers - not least cash-strapped students. Take a look at our cheap broadband page for a range of options.
- Broadband speed: This will need to be decent if you’re hoping to carry out lots of online research for your course, or you’re someone who likes to stream a lot of content. If you want the highest possible available speed, the best option will be fibre-optic broadband, but you’ll need to check out what broadband is available where you live to see what your options are.
- Contract length: Many broadband contracts are for 12-18 months, which might not work for you if you’re in rented accommodation or on a short-term lease - remember, if you cancel your contract before the end of the minimum term, it’s likely you’ll have to pay an early exit fee. However, there are some options with 30 day contracts - including Virgin Media’s Freedom Broadband - which could work well if you’re not sure where you’ll be in a few months.
- Download limits: If you plan to download lots of large files, or you live in a household where lots of you stream content, you might want to opt for [unlimited broadband[https://switcher.ie/broadband/compare/unlimited-broadband/) to avoid any charges for going over data limits.
- Flexibility: You’ll need to think about whether you want to have access to broadband while you’re on the move, or you’re happy to just have it home. If you do need to use the internet on the move, mobile broadband would be perfect for you.
How do I choose a Student Broadband Package?
If you’re living in shared accommodation, you may decide that you and your housemates would like to get TV and/or phone along with your broadband. If so, you’ll usually save by opting to bundle the services together and getting them from the same provider.
- If you want to get a TV, phone and broadband package, there are 4 main providers in the Irish market. The plan from is the cheapest package on the market at the moment. If you don’t want to be tied into a contract, Virgin Media’s Freedom TV 240Mb Broadband & Anytime Mobile plan might be for you - it’s available on a 30-day contract.
- Meanwhile, if you just want to bundle broadband and phone, offers the cheapest plan.
- And for broadband and TV, the eir Vision TV Essential & Broadband + eir Sport plan from eir is the cheapest one on the market.
If you’re not sure whether you need TV along with your broadband, you could opt to go for a streaming subscription for the likes of Netflix or NOW TV, along with a broadband-only plan - this is a really popular option and could save you in the long-run.