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If you're in university-managed halls of residence in your first year, broadband will be included in your accommodation as part of the rent you pay.

If you missed out on getting into university-run halls, and need to go into private halls or a house share, it's likely you'll want to get on the web. Before you take on a pricey contract, you should consider some alternatives.

  • Get it for free at uni. If your campus has free internet access or WiFi, it's worth using that if you can. Use the uni's computers (or charge your laptop at uni), and you won't have to pay for the electricity either. When using public WiFi, it's safest not to access banking or other sensitive sites, so just use it for basic browsing and research purposes.
  • Get it for free on the high street. Free wireless internet's the norm at high street cafés, pubs, and bars now, rather than the exception.
  • Consider shorter contracts. If you decide to get internet access at home, some tariffs come on a 30 day contract. While the monthly cost may be slightly more in the short term, if you'll only need it for nine months instead of the full year, it could work out cheaper in the long run.
  • Beware download limits. If there are several of you downloading or watching TV online, limits for standard cheap tariffs may not be enough. If you live with several heavy downloaders, consider getting an unlimited plan to avoid being hit by unexpected charges.
  • Check the best buys. Some providers offer tariffs aimed at students, though these are often more expensive than the cheapest available. Factor in any fees and line rental to work out the real monthly cost, then use MoneySavingExpert’s guide to cheap broadband to compare it to best buys in your area.
  • Consider going mobile. If you live in an area where broadband's pricey, you move frequently, or just don't want the hassle of chasing your housemates for their portion of the bill, mobile broadband is another option.