Updated on 3rd Aug 2020
Being a student brings some pretty cool perks, but it also brings some incredible challenges. One of the biggest is meeting all your study requirements, while also managing your finances – and trying to squeeze some socialising in as well! This means finding the balance between spending that enables learning and spending on things that, well, might not be entirely related to your education. And one of the biggest grey areas is broadband.
Can You Get a Student Discount on Broadband?
Sure, student cards offer some discounts, but aside from public services like transport and the occasional Wednesday Night Special at the on-campus bar, the student discount can only go so far.
Can you get by as a student without broadband? 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. It put a strain on my relationships, my budget, my waistline, my nerves – and funnily enough my wallet (those coffees ain’t cheap). And if I could do it over again, getting better broadband would be my number one priority — right after dropping out of accounting.
How to choose the cheapest internet plan for Aussie Students?
Not all students use the internet the same way, but there are some factors they all have in common. How much data do you use, where your located and most importantly, how fast does your connection need to be. All these factors will determine what the most affordable internet plan is for you as a student in Australia.
Do you need reliability?
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. This means you need, at the very least, an ADSL2+ connection, preferably close to an exchange.
Do you have enough data?
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.
Where are you located?
In order to maintain both reliability and speed it is ideal to be located as close as possible to your chosen providers exchange point – where the internet connection is made. While a number of latency related factors are generally out of your control, having a better understanding of these issues can help you make your final decision. If you are located more than five kilometres from an exchange, the higher the latency – meaning the longer it would take for a menu to load.
How much will it cost?
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!
How flexible is the plan?
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.
Are there Mobile Broadband Plans available for Students?
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 at plans from Telstra, Southern Phone, MyRepublic, Belong and activ8me.
Telstra Entertainment Plan + Free BINGE & Foxtel Now
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 Smart Modem, unlimited local, national and mobile calls, and a Telstra TV. All that for just $99/month with an included one month free Foxtel Now and three months free BINGE. Split that between two people and that’s around $50/month for all the internet and free entertainment perks you’ll ever need. If you sign up online, you can even have the $99 connection waived. You can get this on a month-to-month plan. Just pay out what your modem in case you leave before 24 months. And all of it is backed up by one of the biggest networks in the country. For days of entertainment, Telstra also delivers as the Number 1 provider for Netflix streaming.
Last audited 22 September 2020
Southern Phone ADSL and NBN Plans
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 $65/month for their standard NBN connection (unlimited data, 25/5 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 Plus” Satellite Plan. This gives you up to 25/5Mbps speeds with data allowances starting at 50GB for $55/month, or 100GB for $70/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.
Last audited 09 September 2020
MyRepublic Essential Plans
MyRepublic is all about delivering super-fast internet without breaking the bank — and your patience. With their NBN50 speed plans delivering up to 43Mbps typical evening speed, everything you do on your device, from streaming to gaming to downloading, is remarkably fast. If you’re a student and you’re on a tight budget, high monthly costs shouldn’t stop you from enjoying high-speed internet. That’s why MyRepublic offers the Essential Plan at only $69 per month with or with no lock-in contract. To get your money’s worth, all plans also include a home phone connection with pay as you go calls, plus a preconfigured modem for only $1 when you lock it in for 12 months. Need greater speed? The 100/20Mbps plans are only at $89/month!
Last audited 09 September 2020
activ8me’s Cheap Internet Plans
One facet of student life is dealing with monthly bills, especially for those renting 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 activ8me’s cheap satellite broadband plans are a relief for those in regional and remote areas. From $34.95/month, you can get connected to its Sky Muster plans (NBN12) with 150GB (15GB peak 135GB off peak). In case your data requirements go higher than that, the sweet spot is the 250GB plan with 90GB and 160GB off peak at $89.95/month. Sky Muster Plus plans (NBN25) are also offered from $59.95/month.
Last audited 07 September 2020
iPrimus Uncapped Data Plans
University life is hectic so it’s only right to get an internet plan that can help as far as one’s productivity is concerned. In this case, you need a broadband service that’s fast, unlimited, and still cheap. For students, there’s iPrimus. Unlimited NBN plans start at $70/month on NBN25. If you share the internet with someone, the NBN50 unlimited plan is a wise pick for just $5 extra. It offers uncapped data with average evening speed of 41Mbps, plus the option to go month to month or sign up for a 12-month contract. With the contract plan, you save $99 on setup and modem fees. All of iPrimus internet plans also include landline with pay as you go calls, as well as the option to bundle it with Fetch TV from only $10/month.
Last audited 15 September 2020
What is the most affordable Internet Plan for Students?
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.