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Coming to Cardiff

Cyflwynir y tudalen hwn yn Saesneg am nad yw wedi'i gyfieithu i'r Gymraeg hyd yn hyn.

Os hoffech i’r dudalen hon gael ei chyfieithu fel mater o flaenoriaeth, anfonwch gyfeiriad y dudalen hon at web@cardiff.ac.uk

How do I get access to the internet when I arrive?

Your username and password allow you to access the Cardiff Portal, the secure gateway to your web-based University services, at anytime and from anywhere http://portal.cardiff.ac.uk

IT rooms and libraries

If you have enrolled online before you arrive in Cardiff, you will be able to use your Cardiff University username, password and email account on any networked computer in the University.

There are over 27 IT rooms open to students on the University campuses. A number of 24-hour IT rooms are also available, including the Julian Hodge Study Centre, which has over 150 PCs for use.

For more information about IT rooms visit www.cardiff.ac.uk/insrv/it/itrooms

Internet in halls of residence

If you are staying in University residences (but not student houses), you will be able to connect your computer to ResLAN (the Residences’ Local Area Network) to access the online resources you need in your study.

All study bedrooms (except in Student Houses or Flats) are equipped with network connection points, a network cable and instructions on how to connect to the University network. The cost of all this is included in your residences fees.

Here’s a guide to getting internet access in Cardiff University Student Houses or private accommodation in Cardiff

Information provided by Ofcom accredited broadband, TV and phone comparison site Cable.co.uk:

If you’ll be renting privately, or living in off-campus university-owned accommodation, you’ll be responsible for your many of your own utilities. That will almost certainly include finding affordable broadband access along with TV and phone services. Broadband access is vital for both studying and entertainment these days, so it’s crucial to make sure you’re properly connected.

You do have to factor in a number of other considerations, such as how long you’ll be at the address, the number of people accessing the connection and what kind of speed and download allowances you need to make sure everyone can get connected when they want.

What broadband options do I have?

You can choose from four main types of broadband. Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), works using a standard telephone landline, but if you need faster broadband then fibre optic is the type to choose. This provides considerably faster download speeds, although this does involve a higher cost of course.

Mobile broadband lets you connect to the internet via a smartphone or USB dongle. It’s often slower than ADSL or fibre optic, but does let you connect when you’re out and about – perhaps on field trips. It’s also an option if you can’t access ADSL or fibre optic broadband at your address.

Finally, there’s satellite broadband, which is useful for those living in a remote locations but shouldn’t really be needed in Cardiff.

What’s the coverage like in Cardiff?

Broadband speed is measured in megabits/second (Mbps) and the average speeds you’ll find in and around Cardiff vary from under 2Mbps to 60Mbps. Obviously, higher speeds mean it’ll be easier for you and your housemates to download or stream content. Although there are exceptions, locations in and around the University, are generally good. There are a few slow spots to the north-east of the university around Eastern Avenue and Llanedeyrn Road, but even here speeds of up to 24Mbps are available to some residents.

However, there are several areas popular with students, including Colum Road, where speeds of around 4Mbps are average. Depending on your proximity to the exchange and if the cabling has been renewed in your street, this can go up to above 16Mbps. One exception is Colum Place, where speeds in university-owned student accommodation may fall below 2Mbps, making drop-outs an issue, particularly at peak times.

In Cogan Terrace, East Grove and Glynrhondda Street, there are other slow spots where speeds can be less than 2Mbps. It might be that mobile broadband can offer a better solution here.

Student houses in Llanbleddian Gardens, Llandough Street, Miskin Street and Ruthin Gardens may only be able to gain access at around 2Mbps speeds. Around Senghennyd Road, speeds can drop below 1Mbps at times, which could make connections unstable. Despite being generally well served, the CF24 postcode area, where much of the university-owned accommodation is to be found, is dotted with slow spots.

Do be aware that the broadband infrastructure is being constantly upgraded, and any particularly slow areas may well be improved in the near future.

What kind of coverage will I need?

If you have previously been using broadband provided in the Halls of Residence, it can be difficult to determine exactly what your own requirements will be once you take responsibility for your own broadband. The best guideline to remember is that the more people sharing the service, the faster it’ll need to be to enable everyone to connect successfully.

To get the fastest speeds you’ll need fibre optic broadband, but the actual speed you’ll experience will be determined by other factors such as the package you choose, how far from the exchange your are and how many people are sharing the same connection at the time.

Student usually share accommodation, so if four or more people are sharing the same house, you’ll ideally need to be looking for a fibre optic package that can deliver speeds of around 30Mbps or higher.

Limited or unlimited?

Another consideration is whether to choose a capped or unlimited download service. If there’s just two of you sharing a property, and as long as you restrict the number of data-rich downloads like films and TV programmes you download or stream, a capped package of between 20GB and 40GB should be adequate. Perhaps more importantly, it should also be relatively cheap.

However, if there are more people sharing the house or if you do a lot of gaming, streaming movies or speaking to friends and family back home using services such as Skype, then an unlimited package is much more suitable. This may cost more initially, but no download limits mean there’ll be no extra charges to worry about. And getting into a debate about who downloaded what over the previous month can be like arguing over a restaurant bill – best avoided.

What providers are available in Cardiff?

Most of the major providers offer broadband in Cardiff, and there are also new providers moving into the area that offer some great, low-priced deals. Locations in the CF24 and CF10 postcodes can choose from very cheap broadband using deals from Primus Saver, Tesco and TalkTalk, or, at the other end of the market if you want to get ready for 4G mobile coverage then EE is also operational in the area. Speeds in these locations range from around 4Mbps up to nearly 40Mbps in streets to the east of the area, although, as always, some spots may be a little slower.

Avoid lengthy contracts

Another important point to consider is the length of the contract you enter into. The majority of broadband deals, either ADSL or fibre optic, are for between 12-18 months. If you’re planning to spend the entire year at the same address, including the summer, then a contract of 12 months (or even longer) may be suitable and offer the best value.

However, if you’re spending the holidays back home or have to move house in mid-term a shorter contract could be a better option. Some specifically designed student broadband packages are available in September and October, but not all providers offer these. They tend to run for the length of the academic year, so might not be appropriate if you or your housemates are planning on staying at the address beyond that. You can see an Ofcom accredited comparison of student broadband deals here.

Some providers offer monthly deals, which are fine if you’re really not certain how long you‘ll be at an address – for example if you’ve had to change address in mid-year. But you’ll have to pay up front for this and the cost is often considerably higher than you’d pay for a longer contract.

What will I have to pay?

Prices can differ greatly – factors include the monthly allowance, whether the service is fibre optic, what speed you opt for and, of course, what other services such as landline and digital TV you include. It’s often a wise move to source these together from the same provider as a bundle. Very cheap broadband deals may not be the best option as you’ll find surcharges applied if you exceed the monthly limits.

Generally speaking, the cheaper deals can be found for around £5 per month and fibre optic services start at three or four times that. If cost is the main factor then it’s doubly important to shop around. You can do this online, but again, do try to use an Ofcom accredited comparison site. For example, you can find and compare cheap broadband here.

Any other hidden costs?

The main additional cost will be the line rental. Every provider (with the exception of Virgin Media’s fibre optic service) requires that you to have an active phone line before broadband can be connected. This generally means about £15 per month on average. However you can often reduce this considerably by paying for the line rental for the length of the contract in advance.

You may also be charged a one-off fee for activation, especially if you go for a cheaper deal or shorter contract. Finally you might be charged a connection fee if the property is not already connected, or the connection needs updating.

Above all, compare prices!

As with many services these days, it’s important to properly compare what’s available – and you can do this online. Whether your needs are based on price, speed, unlimited downloads or just which services are available, an Ofcom accredited comparison site can give you the best information and allow you to weigh up the various options, side-by-side. This goes for not just broadband, but also TV and phone services too, which you can often source all together from the same provider. Click here to compare broadband, TV and phone deals all in one place.

A word about housemates

One last thing to consider - although some broadband providers don’t allow this, do try and get all your housemate’s names on any contracts you sign. This can help avoid complications when it’s time to wind things up, and ensure no one person gets left with the responsibility for any outstanding bills. Again, that’s an awkward situation you want to avoid if possible.

More information on bringing your computer and connecting to the network see: can I bring my computer to Cardiff?

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