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BT vs Sky

Monday, June 30th 2014

BT and Sky are two of the UK’s foremost providers of digital TV, broadband and home phone services, but in some respects, that’s where the similarity ends.

We’ve broken the two companies down to their component offerings to find out which one provides the best service for their respective customers and therefore which one you should really choose when considering between the two. Let battle commence.

At a glance

Download speed152Mbps
up to
76Mbps
up to
Upload12Mbps
up to
19Mbps
up to
Traffic management
Public Wi-Fi
Standard TV channels60+240+
HD channels4350+
Line rental per month£15.99
optional
£15.40
required
Line rental saver£144
per year
Compare bundles →Compare bundles →
BT
Download
152Mbps
Upload
12Mbps
Usage limits
Yes
Traffic management
  •  
Public Wi-Fi
  •  
SD channels
60+
HD channels
43
Line rental
£15.99
Line rental saver
£144
Sky
Download Speed
Up to 76Mbps
Upload Speed
Up to 19Mbps
Fair Usage Policy
No
Usage limits
Yes
Traffic management
No
Static IP
No
Minimum contract
From 12 months
Public Wi-Fi
Yes
Prices from

Broadband

BT

BT offers several standard and fibre broadband packages, each of which comes bundled with a landline calls plan and a BT Home Hub wireless router along with unlimited access to the UK’s largest public Wi-Fi network. BT's fastest available package is up to 300Mbps, but only a tiny proportion of the UK population can access this sort of speed. BT's fastest widely available package has speeds of up to 76Mbps, which is the same as Sky's fastest package.

Sky

Sky offers two standard broadband and two fibre broadband products. They come bundled with weekend calls as standard, a Sky Hub wireless router and, with the exception of Sky Broadband Lite, unlimited access to The Cloud network of public Wi-Fi hotspots. Sky's Wi-Fi network is nowhere near as extensive as BT's, however, covering around 20,000 locations rather than the millions covered by BT.

Download speed76Mbps
up to
76Mbps
up to
Upload speed19Mbps
up to
19Mbps
up to
Fair usage policy
Usage limits
Traffic management
Static IP
Minimum contract18 monthsFrom 12 months
Public Wi-Fi
Prices from£5 per month£5 per month
 £5 per month →£5 per month →
BT
Download speed
Up to 76Mbps
Upload speed
Up to 19Mbps
Fair usage policy
No
Traffic management
No
Static IP
No
Minimum contract
18 months
Public Wi-Fi
Yes
Prices from
Sky
Download Speed
Up to 76Mbps
Upload Speed
Up to 19Mbps
Fair Usage Policy
No
Traffic management
No
Static IP
No
Minimum contract
From 12 months
Public Wi-Fi
Yes
Prices from

TV

BT

BT offers two TV packages – the Essential and Entertainment packs – which can only be accessed when taken in conjunction with broadband and phone. The Essential package includes up to 70 Freeview channels, access to catch-up TV, a Youview box and access to the BT Sport app. The Entertainment package offers everything the Essential package delivers plus an additional 20 extra channels, including Fox, SyFy and Comedy Central.

Sky

Sky TV is a more complete digital TV offering. It can be taken either as a standalone service or in a bundle with broadband and home phone calls. Whichever option you choose you’ll get a Sky+ box for free. The basic package - The Original Bundle - features over 240 free-to-air channels, including Freeview, plus 35 entertainment channels including Sky One and Sky Atlantic. The Entertainment Pack can be upgraded if you want additional channels, along with HD and 3D options, or it can be further enhanced with Sky Sports or Sky Movies.

Standard channelsUp to 70275
HD channelsUp to 17Up to 66
Mobile appsSky Go
Digital recorderYouView boxSky+ HD box
Prices from£5 per month£16.12 per month
 £5 per month →£16.12 per month →
BT
Standard channels
Up to 70
HD channels
Up to 17
Mobile apps
None
Digital recorder
YouView box
Prices from
Sky
Standard channels
275
HD channels
Up to 66
Mobile apps
Sky Go
Digital recorder
Sky+ box
Prices from

Home phone

BT

BT line rental is £15.99 per month and includes unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and 0845 & 0870 numbers, and you have the option to pay extra to add anytime calls. However, if you fail to make at least two qualifying calls in any given month you will be fined £2. BT holds an important advantage over Sky in that it offers a line rental saver option, which means you can pay a full year’s line rental in advance for one payment of £159.84.

Sky

Sky line rental costs { per month, which means an annual cost of £184.80. You’ll get inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines and 0870 numbers, or you can pay to upgrade this to anytime calls. Any bundle that includes calls and broadband requires you to pay line rental to Sky.

Line rental£15.99£15.40
Line rental saver£159.84
Keep existing number
Contract length12 months12 months
BT
Line rental
£15.99
Line rental saver
£141.00
Keep existing number
Yes
Contract length
12 months
Sky
Line rental
£15.40
Line rental saver
n/a
Keep existing number
Yes
Contract length
12 months

Bundles

BT

Home phone lies at the heart of BT’s business, and whichever services you choose to sign up for you’ll have to pay line rental at £15.99 per month or £159.84 in advance per year. On top of that you can add BT services in the following combinations: home phone only, broadband and phone and broadband, TV and phone. BT's bundles operate on a pyramid. To get broadband, you need a home phone (landline). To get BT TV you need broadband and a home phone - all of which must be taken from BT.

Sky

There is a little more flexibility with Sky with the option to take TV on its own. Bear in mind that for any Sky bundle that includes calls or broadband you will be required to pay line rental at £15.40 per month. Sky services are available in the following combinations: TV only, broadband and phone without TV, TV and phone without broadband and TV, broadband and phone. Sky customers have much greater scope for bundling their services. Sky bundles are competitively priced, and you get more for your money than with BT, but there is a catch; if you live outside the Sky network area you’ll pay more for a basic broadband package.

Customer service

BT

Ofcom frequently rates the customer satisfaction levels of broadband, TV and home phone providers in its reports. BT took a bit of a battering in Ofcom's latest report (2013), which revealed that the provider rated beneath the industry average for customer satisfaction. Even worse, the latest complaints figures from Ofcom show that BT had more complaints in 2014 than any provider other than TalkTalk. So overall, BT hasn't done great in this department.

Sky

Sky performed significantly better than BT across all measurable standards in the same Ofcom reports. The provider rated above average in terms of customer satisfaction, and Ofcom's recent complaints report (2014) shows that Sky has one of the lowest rates of customer complaints of any provider other than Virgin Media. In this respect, Sky far outshines BT.

You can read the latest Ofcom report here.

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Extras

BT

There's a whole raft of extras available when you sign up to BT. Broadband customers (and anyone with BT TV) will get access to cloud storage, parental controls, entirely free access to BT Sport either through the online player or your BT TV, and free use of any BT hotspot in the UK. There are millions of these BT hotspots knocking around the country too, so can be a great way to get online with your mobile device when you're away from home.

Sky

Sky customers also get a bunch of extras - but not as many as those with BT. Sky TV can be thoroughly enhanced with extra channels, such as Sky Sports and Sky Movies (though don't forget, you'll have to pay), and you get Sky's mobile online player Sky Go for free. Broadband customers will get parental controls through the much-touted Sky Shield software. You can also get online for free with Sky Wi-Fi hotspots. But as these hotspots only number in the thousands, rather than the millions, this service pales in comparison to BT's.

Conclusion

Both providers are evenly matched in terms of broadband, with BT ahead on speed in fibre areas while Sky offers truly unlimited download options with no traffic management. However, in every other respect Sky is the clear winner.

Our advice is to focus on which is the better provider for you and your needs. Take some time and use our comparison tool below to weigh up your options, remember to check availability in your area, and make sure to check the latest BT and Sky special offers in our comparison section.

Compare BT deals → Compare Sky deals →

Comments (9)

Damien
21 days ago

Did I say you wanted to. And sky is 50p cheaper a month on line rental. You go to your sky internet. With their c*** router that needs boosters and call their free 0844 number when u need a bit of help.

hughezee
21 days ago

Who cares about how many wifi hotspots ...its not if I'm going to travel around the uk like a bee looking for pollen. .. just go to mcds and get a coffee and free wifi ..cheapest line rental is the key ..bye

Damien
21st July 2014

Have you tried an alternative Ethernet cable? If not contact bt. I work for them and had a few problems with connectivity on the new sky box and home hub 3. The home hub 4 should resolve if not

21st July 2014

Hi Gaynor

Thanks for your comment. There's a thread on this in the BT forum. Hope it helps.

Hannah - Cable.co.uk

Gaynor
19th July 2014

I cannot link btinternet homehub3 with /Sky HD+box and neither /Sky nor BT will resolve problem . I am very upset !

James
1st June 2014

Bt also offer line rental saver.

Neither company shouts out about it as it's a loss overall for them. Think of a line rental saver as a loop hole to save you the money.

Also sky have a higher contention ratio than bt on both copper and fibre. There's a lot more too it than just the above.

damien
25th May 2014

bt have 7 million wifi hotspots, sky have 18'000 also bt have 24/7 tech support and free customer service number unlike sky. also bt offer a customer service gaurentee not offered by other provides but bt are more expensive

nobab
6th April 2014

Sky do offer line rental saver....when you pay up front it works out around 11.40 a month

Chris
26th May 2013

I'm trying to compare the supplementary wifi hotspot offers from Sky and BT. which is the better, most extensive, UK and international offer?

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