Campuses across Canada are welcoming students back for in-person learning this year, and that’s great! If the last year and a half have taught us anything, it’s that we should probably all be prepared to spend at least a little more time online. That’s why this school year, more than ever, it’s important for college and university students to consider their internet needs before the semester begins.
If you’re moving for school, your internet setup may not even be on your radar yet. This could be your first time away from home, or living off-campus, or even your first time moving to a new city or new country. It’s a lot to soak in and we get that your hands are probably full, so we’ve put together this handy checklist to make getting your internet service and tech figured out nice and easy. So… what do you need to stay connected for the school year?
A good internet plan with a trusted provider
Before you sign up with an internet provider, we recommend doing your research. Start by searching for providers that offer service in the area you’re moving to. Be sure to read some customer reviews to find out what people are saying before you make a choice. At Start.ca, we have some of the top customer-satisfaction scores out there. We offer service across most of Ontario, including all the big cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Windsor, and just about everywhere in between. Other important service factors to consider include:
- Speed – Download speed should be a key factor in your decision making. For a person living alone, you may only need speed in the 20-50 Mbps range. If you’re going to have multiple roommates and you’re all going to be streaming/gaming/video-calling simultaneously, you’ll probably want to up that to something over 100 Mbps. We offer speeds in many areas up to 300 Mbps for those that need a lot of speed. If you do a lot of video calls, online gaming, or large file uploads and transfers, you will also want to consider upload speeds when shopping for internet packages.
- Price –Tuition, books, and campus-dining aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to pay more than you must in order to get decent internet service. At Start.ca, we offer a ton of affordable plans, and you don’t have to worry about haggling for a student discount. We already offer our lowest prices on all plans, to all customers, because we’re committed to price equality and transparency. That’s something you definitely won’t get from some of the other providers out there.
- Unlimited – No one likes overage charges. No one likes worrying about rationing internet usage. So, give yourself peace of mind by opting for an unlimited internet plan.
- Avoid Contracts – The school year doesn’t typically run 12 months, so it doesn’t make sense to sign a year-long contract if you’re only going to need the service for 8-10 months. Some providers (including us) offer services on a month-to-month basis so you can cancel your service whenever you need to, without any penalties or extra fees.
- Reliability – Nothing is worse than getting a dropped connection during an online exam or on an all-nighter cramming session. There are several reasons why someone may experience a connection issue, so going with a provider that offers dependable 24/7 service and support is crucial. You can trust Start.ca to keep you connected. We’ve been around for over 25 years and if you do experience a technical issue, you’ll quickly learn how amazingly friendly and knowledgeable our Support Team is.
Wi-Fi that makes sense for you
You’ll need a router to enable Wireless connectivity, or Wi-Fi, in your home. Some providers provide 2-in-1 router/modem combo units. We recommend avoiding these as the headaches they can cause typically outweigh the convenience factor in our experience. Not all routers are the same, and choosing one that makes sense for your living space and your typical internet usage is critical. Some key router info to consider:
- Speed – Make sure the router can handle the speed of your internet connection. If you’re getting service speeds at or above 100 Mbps, you’ll want to make sure you get a gigabit router.
- Living Space – How big is your living space? If you live in a large multi-level home with many other housemates, you may want to consider a mesh router that has multiple nodes so you can make each room a Wi-Fi hotspot. We carry the Mercku Mesh router, which is a solid option for most mid-sized to large living spaces.
- Location – Avoid putting your router in a basement or an enclosed space where the signal may be blocked by physical barriers. If you do have to put a router in a basement or confined space, this may be another good time to go for a mesh router system.
- 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz – Most modern routers offer dual or tri-band technology, meaning they offer different Wi-Fi channels. Your device may connect to one automatically, or you may be able to switch manually. So… which one to choose? 2.4 GHz is useful if your router is far away as the signal can travel farther. 5 GHz Wi-Fi is designed to provide faster speeds. The downside is you do get a bit less range.
Learn some basic troubleshooting
You’re on your own now. That means you need to be able to do some simple troubleshooting if issues arise. Truth is, it’s often as simple as turning your modem off and then on again. There are, however, more nuanced issues that could be affecting your connection, but if you know the basics, you can generally get them fixed quite quickly. To help you learn troubleshooting, we offer a ton of helpful support videos and resources on our Support Page and on our YouTube channel.￼Plus, if you’re a Start.ca customer, you can download the for free. The app runs network scans on your system to help you find and address issues. StartCARE app for free. The app runs network scans on your system to help you find and address issues.
An Ethernet cable
Contrary to what you may think, ethernet cables are not just a thing of the past. Wireless connectivity is amazing, but when it comes down to it, there’s just no beating a good old-fashioned hardwired connection. Ethernet cables will always offer a more stable connection than wireless signals. They’re inexpensive and you can get them in just about any length at any computer repair shop. Not all Ethernet cables are created equal either. For best results, we recommend Cat5E or Cat6 Ethernet cables. Some campuses are even setup to allow wired connections in certain buildings such as libraries, so we recommend carrying one around in your backpack too.
VoIP phone for staying in touch with family
If you’re moving away for school, you probably want an easy way to stay in touch with your family back home. A VoIP phone uses your internet connection to deliver a phone experience that’s similar to a landline at a fraction of the cost. It’s a great alternative that tends to be more stable than video-calls, so you don’t have to worry about buffering or dropped calls. At Start.ca, we offer incredibly affordable phone service with options for unlimited calling in Canada, North America, or worldwide. If you’re family has poor internet service but has a dependable landline, we highly recommend exploring VoIP phone options. Learn more about our phone service.
Good luck students!
Going away for school can be an incredible experience, but it’s also a little stressful. We hope this checklist has helped you feel more confidant and ready for the return to campus. If you’d like to see if Start.ca is available near your college or university, visit Start.ca and check which options are available to your address. When you’re at school, remember to call your parents occasionally, they’ll miss you. And be sure to eat a vegetable once in a while. And of course, don’t forget to get your internet needs figured out before you head back to school. Happy learning!