Broadband and Mobile for UK Students Going Overseas

Phone Home
It may be easier than you think to get into contact
with your friends and family 

Whether you're taking a gap year or spending part of your course overseas, you’re probably going to want to keep in touch with those back home.

You'll also want to keep in touch with friends you make overseas. So what’s the best way to do so on a budget?

Taking your mobile with you

You can continue using your current mobile overseas thanks to international roaming, but this can get expensive.

  • Check with your current provider to find out what its roaming rates are. Remember to look at the overseas costs of texts and data, as well as minutes.
  • If you find that the costs are too high, you could still take your mobile with you but use a locally purchased SIM instead.

Mobile phone deals overseas

You can pick up a pay as you go SIM (often internationally referred to as pre-paid) to use in your existing phone.

  • You might need to get your handset unlocked to allow a different SIM to work in it.
  • A pay as you go option makes it easy to keep control of your spending. 
  • The downside is that you won’t be able to use your UK number.
  • This avoids credit checks and is by far the simplest way of getting a low cost mobile to use abroad.

Some countries offer mobile phone rental deals where, for a small deposit, you can hire a phone with a SIM for the duration of your stay. Although you’re still responsible for call, data and text charges, you’ll get your deposit back as long as you return the phone in working order. This option again tends to avoid credit checks.

Credit as an international student

If you’re likely to be staying in another country for a prolonged period and decide you want a fully fledged mobile or broadband contract of your own, there are some steps you’ll probably need to take to get a credit rating.

  • You’ll be much more likely to get goods or services on credit if you’ve got a bank account in the country you’re visiting. To get one, you’ll need proof of ID (your passport and university ID should suffice), a letter from your university confirming your status as a fulltime student and/or confirmation of your employment status if you’re working.  
  • While most international broadband and mobile providers may be reluctant to offer you a contract with little credit history, some look more generously at international students. Whatever the case, getting your first overseas credit will make it easier to get subsequent goods and services.

Getting online wherever you are

Free wifi
Many public spaces all over the world offer free wifi

As in the UK you could use an internet café, free public Wi-Fi or mobile data. If you’re away from home for a long time you may want to get your own broadband connection.

  • As you would in the UK, consider how you’re planning to use your broadband connection, how much data allowance you’re likely to need, and what’s available in the area you will be visiting before signing up. 
  • If you’re in halls of residence or renting, you may have access to an existing broadband connection without having to set up your own.

Cut costs by calling online

  • It’s possible to make free computer-to-computer calls using software packages like Vonage and Skype, or through social media sites like Facebook.
  • These Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps ensure you can contact others online by making video or voice-only calls for free.
  • In some instances, you can upgrade the service to dial landlines by purchasing computer-to-phone credits.

Other ways to cut costs

  • Ensure that your smartphone or tablet doesn’t automatically check for new messages or download attachments in the background – you could run up unexpectedly high data bills this way.
  • Many applications regularly check for updates by going online and downloading required files. Play safe: turn off these auto updates or simply switch off your data services entirely.

Read more about studying overseas and how to fund your degree.