Being a student is something of a rite of passage. It brings some pretty cool perks, but it also brings some incredible challenges. One of the biggest challenges is meeting all your study requirements, while also managing your finances. In the present day, this means finding the balance between spending that enables learning and spending on things that, well, might not be entirely study related. And one of the biggest grey areas is broadband.
Sure, student cards offer discounts across a range of services, but aside from public services like transport and the ubiquitous Wednesday Night Special at the on-campus bar, the student discount can only go so far.
It should be mentioned that it is entirely possible to get by as a student without a broadband plan. When I was studying, I made it a point in my first year to visit family and friends who had outstanding internet connections. I would hang out on campus to use the (buggy, unreliable) free WiFi. And I even chugged my way through countless coffee-and-muffin combos to keep a table at the local cafe. Let me tell you — it is not a good feeling doing this. It put a strain on my relationships, my budget, my waistline, and my nerves. And if I could do it over again, getting better broadband would be my number one priority — right after dropping out of accounting.
What Do You Need?
Not all students use the internet the same way, but there are some factors they all have in common.
A reliable connection
As a student, it’s important to have a solid connection. Online research, downloading course outlines, uploading projects, collaborating with fellow students in those ever-present group assignments — it’s safe to say you will be spending a lot of time online. Especially if you’re doing distance education, or are enrolled in an online course. You need to know that your internet won’t slow to a crawl or bug out — especially when completing an online test or uploading your assignment minutes before the due date. So it’s safe to say you need connection that’s consistent and reliable. This means you need, at the very least, an ADSL2+ connection, preferably close to an exchange.
Unless you’re involved in video production and need to access and send massive files on a regular basis, the course data you need to download probably won’t take up hundreds of gigabytes. But you’re not just using the internet for study, are you? This is the digital age, a lot of our lives are lived online. From social media and streaming TV online to gaming with friends — there’s a lot going on. With this in mind students need to ensure there’s enough data left at the end of the month for you to download the lecture slides from that one class you keep missing.
This is a given even if you live at home. Firstly, as a student, you don’t have a lot of time to work a regular gig outside of study time. Secondly, the kinds of gigs you get as a student don’t typically pay a whole lot. And finally, the spare change you do manage to scrape together also needs to fund your social life — which, in Australia, is not that cheap!
Freedom to move
Whether you’ll be staying on-campus, finding a decent place to rent, or maybe staying with family, real-life experience shows us that it’s best to be prepared to move. There are many reasons you might choose to relocate while studying, from noisy neighbours and increasing rent, through to difficulties with familial landlords. So it pays to find a plan that’s flexible enough to let you pack up and relocate should you need to.
You can’t rely on mobile.
Yes, there are plenty of mobile plans that offer loads of data, but measured against the points above, they don’t make the cut. Why? Because they’re often more expensive per gigabyte of data, and their speed and reliability depend on too many other factors (like tower location and number of devices around you). Plus, you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have that connection available when you need it.
What Broadband Deals Can a Student Card Deliver?
In our search for student-friendly internet bundles and plans, we came across a big fat zero. While a number of plans exist that will make concessions for student mobile plans, we couldn’t find any major telcos offering special discounts for student internet.
So, are there deals out there that meet your needs without a student card? Let’s take a look!
Sharing a House? Telstra is Your Friend
If you’re moving out for the first time, chances are you’ll be moving into a shared house. You and your mates will be on your own and most likely looking for deals. So it makes sense to go with an all-in-one solution that gives you everything you need for a good rate — and Telstra offers students a great solution. Their Entertainment Plan gives you unlimited data, a Telstra
Get Telstra’s Broadband Bundle
Get the new Telstra TV 3 + unlimited data + $125 Telstra TV Box Office credit + 3 mths unlimited access to hayu, DocPlay, Garage, & AnimeLab — all for only $99/mth!
Distance Education? Try Southern Phone
If you’re struggling to find a low-cost option or if you’re in a regional area and can’t find a trusted provider that will get you connected, then Southern Phone is the telco for you! Offering both ADSL and NBN connections, Southern Phone has some great plans. Starting at just $45/month for their basic NBN connection (100GB, 12/1 speed tier) and $60/month for 500GB on ADSL2+, this local company truly delivers a variety of options ideal for students. For regional students in areas that aren’t serviced by ADSL or the NBN, they offer their “Sky Muster” Satellite Plan. This gives you 12Mbps speeds with data allowances starting at 70GB for $38/month, or 120GB for $45/month. You’ll need to supply your own WiFi modem (or buy one for a one-off $99 cost) but the satellite dish and installation is all done at no cost to you.
Get Great Value Broadband Plans with No Lock-In Contract!
Get connected today with Southern Phone broadband, offering a great range of NBN plans for all needs and budget. NBN plans start at only $50/mth and come with no lock-in contract.
Need Cheap & Reliable Connection? Get It From Belong
Schoolwork these days can be very complicated and would sometimes require a more reliable connection to get things done. This applies to uni students, especially those taking up courses in line with computers, engineering, and digital media, who all need speedy internet to help them accomplish their coursework. This is where Belong Broadband shines. Backed by the country’s largest network, Belong offers a wide range of plans that would cater to varying needs of students. The Starter plan already offers unlimited data on the NBN25 speed tier and is available on a no lock-in contract option for an additional $5 per month. From there, you can go higher by opting for faster speeds. Belong isn’t only one of the cheapest, but it’s also one of the reliable ones when it comes to quality and speed.
Unlimited Data with Belong
Get unlimited NBN data + a free WiFi modem for just $55/month. Zero standard activation fees!
Tangerine Lets You Squeeze a Good Deal
One facet of student life is dealing with monthly bills, especially for those renting out their own place or sharing it with a mate. It can be quite stressful having to look through several bills that come in month after month. That’s why Tangerine’s cheap internet plans are a relief. With an additional $10 monthly discount for six months, you can score unlimited internet for as low as $49.90 per month. You don’t have to worry about the setup fees, either. Plans aren’t only cheap, they’re also flexible. There’s no lock-in contract so you can cancel anytime. Plus there’s a 14-day risk-free trial for added freedom.
Get Unlimited NBN Plans That Pack A Punch!
Sign up now to start your risk free 14-day free trial + get $10 off every NBN plan for the first 6 months plus other perks. Plans start at $49.90/mth.
Rely on Your Mate For a Good Casual Rate
You may have heard of the new telco Mate Communicate. With ADSL2+ plans from $49/month and NBN plans (12/1 speed tier) from $59/month, they’re hard to beat. For regional students after an ADSL connection, Mate also offers their Country Mates Plan for $59/month. All plans are month-to-month, there are no plan-change fees, and they all offer uncapped data for life. For the ADSL services, you’ll need the have your home phone line already connected to the Telstra network — which they can do for you for an additional cost.
Don’t Forget to Compare for the Best Deals!
As the examples here show, there’s not a lot of interest from Internet providers in making special offers for full-time students, but you can find regular plans with the prices and features that still meet your needs.
The key to making your student broadband budget stretch is to shop around. Look up the plans directly — and if you’ve got any questions about a particular provider’s service, give them a call! Talking to an actual person helps give you a good sense of what they can offer.
If you’re relatively new to the world of broadband plans, don’t be afraid to go for a plan with no contract. This way, you can see what the service is like first-hand — and if you find yourself needing more, or paying too much, you can switch to a new provider while avoiding paying a penalty fee.