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Broadband – A Student Perspective on an Essential Service

Broadband is a key service students need to navigate their time at university guest contributor Zoe Redfern recently completed a Masters in Computer Information Systems at the University of Lincoln and will relocate to Cheshire in the coming months to begin a graduate job with Siemens.

Having completed my Master’s Degree at the University of Lincoln not long ago, I am quite qualified to comment on the four years I had to put up with ‘Student Broadband Packages’.

At the time I moved into Courts (the on-campus accommodation) only an Ethernet connection was supplied, one to each bedroom. WiFI was installed soon after, though.  From that point students could actually connect their laptops to the Internet from their flat’s kitchen and living areas. This WiFi was great in the flat I inhabited at Courts during my first year. Although I was in the room furthest away from the wall mounted router I could still connect to it without any issues.

By the time I moved out of Courts the issue of Internet was very close to the top of my list, so I moved into an accommodation block that provided Internet as standard. The service started off at 8Mbps connection and went up by 2Mbps’s each of my three years there, and it suited me down to the ground. It was one less thing to worry about, and with me studying for an IT degree any problems would have fallen on me to sort out.  That, and chasing others for payments was something that I would have found to be really annoying.

To be honest, the Internet connection at my second accommodation — supplied by a company called Ask4 — was really good (and no websites were blocked by the Ask4 service, unlike the BT Broadband service I used whenever I went home) I was so pleased with the service, in fact, that I did on-site promotions for the company for two years after the landlord put my name forward. I was irritated and puzzled, though, that even though we had a standard connection we could pay extra to upgrade. For instance, we could spend £80 for the year to have a 30MB connection in one room only. My boyfriend was paying just a little more than that for a 100MB connection in his student house…a connection that that would’ve cost roughly £400 in my flat!

In the end, I paid for the 30MB connection for two years, using the money I earnt from Ask4 to do so (in essence, a win-win situation). I stuck with the flat rate this last year, though, and I must admit that other than it being a little bit slower for downloads it was just fine! And I honestly cannot say that I encountered any problems with the Ask4 Internet packages, etc., though it did become a bit tedious when the company would schedule maintenance to occur close to deadlines and throughout the night (times when most students were probably pulling an all-nighter).

I would say I used the Internet primarily for work during my last year (with the odd bit of procrastination here and there), and to keep in contact with family and friends as well. I also like to game when I have the chance, download TV shows and music, and stream football and other sports. Also, I found that I was using the Internet more to keep in contact with friends outside of Uni, too, as well as to arrange things with Uni friends. And I used Social Media to both keep in touch with people and to contact companies about graduate positions. Thus, with the Internet fulfilling so much of my contact needs, I discovered that even though I get unlimited texts each month on my phone contract, I was no longer sending as many texts as I once did!

Finally, the Internet connectivity around the University campus was always great! I used to take my laptop to the library to do work, making use of the Uni WiFi each time with no problem, and the speeds were more than sufficient for what I needed and wanted to do on the Internet.

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