Is Sky broadband any good?
Pros and cons
Sky has transformed its business from a subscription satellite TV service into one of UK's biggest broadband, TV and phone providers in the market competing with the likes of Virgin Media and BT but how does its broadband stack up?
In this guide, we'll look at the different broadband packages, perks, contracts and restrictions in order to carefully examine ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ to cut though the hype and help you decide for yourself if Sky broadband is right for you.
Before we go into detail, here are our top 3 reasons for and against Sky broadband:
- Unlimited packages have absolutely no download restrictions
- Basic option is free for TV and landline customers
- Competitively priced
- Low availability in rural areas
- Prohibitively low download limit with free option
- All packages require line rental at £14.50 a month
No fair usage policy or traffic management
The majority of UK broadband packages are governed by a fair usage policy which limits the amount of data you can download each month, and exceeding this figure can result in speed ‘throttling’, which is a real bugbear for consumers. With Sky Broadband Unlimited and Sky Fibre Unlimited there’s no fair usage policy, so you’re free to download as much as you like each month.
Traffic management refers to the reduction of bandwidth allocated to specific tasks or to heavy users at peak times. Sky’s unlimited packages aren’t subject to traffic management so you can do whatever you like online at any time of the day, although speeds are likely to drop at busier times.
12-month standard contracts
Broadband contracts, especially amongst the bigger providers, usually last for 18 months. All of Sky’s packages come on short 12 month contracts, and it’s the same whether they’re taken with TV or not.
Shorter contracts are usually a better option as they give you the freedom to jump ship to a rival provider if a better service comes along, or if they can offer you a better price.
Unlimited public Wi-Fi usage
Sky Broadband/Fibre Unlimited customers can register up to 6 devices at a time for unlimited access to public Wi-Fi with The Cloud. This means that you can browse the web on compatible laptops, mobiles, tablets and more at any of the thousands of Cloud hotspots right across the UK.
“Unbeatable customer satisfaction”
According to Ofcom, the UK’s communications industry watchdog, Sky broadband customers enjoy “unbeatable customer satisfaction compared to those with BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk”.
Free basic broadband with bundles
Sky is the only provider to offer free broadband with bundles starting at £10.75 plus £14.50 line rental per month.
The package in question, Sky Broadband Lite, has a low 2GB monthly usage allowance, so it’s not ideal for those that want to download HD movies or spend all day on the iPlayer, but it’s a really nice extra for those that don’t spend much time online.
Network areas only
The prices quoted for Sky Broadband Unlimited and for TV bundles with Sky Broadband Lite always apply to ‘network areas only’, which according to Sky’s accounts for 70% of UK homes.
In other areas, Sky only offers the basic Connect service. This has a slower download speed, a monthly usage allowance of just 40GB, is subject to traffic management and, perhaps worst of all, costs more than the unlimited package that network area customers can enjoy.
If you’re unsure whether your home lies within the Sky network or not you can check availability on our Sky broadband page, or at the bottom this guide.
Low usage limits with Broadband Lite
It may seem petty to criticise the Sky Broadband Lite package – after all it’s free – but 2GB is one of the lowest home broadband usage limits we’ve come across. In fact, the only packages you see with a lower limit are mobile broadband.
Having said that, for some people 2GB will be sufficient, and not everyone goes online every day or needs broadband to watch on-demand TV or fill up their iPod with fresh music every week.
Be aware that going over the 2GB limit with Broadband Lite more than once will result in you automatically being moved to the Sky Broadband Unlimited package, and with an increase to your bill to cover it.
You must switch your landline
To get any get any Sky broadband package you have to switch your phone line and pay Sky line rental at £14.50 a month, which amounts to £174 a year.
Since this guide was first published Sky has introduced an upfront line rental offer, which allows customers to pay £119.40 for a full year’s line rental if they pay it in advance. This is equivalent to just £9.95 a month and yields an annual line rental saving of £54.60.
Early disconnection fees
The minimum term for Sky broadband packages is 12 months, and if you cancel before this is up you will most likely be charged an ‘early termination charge’. It can be easy to miss this, as it’s buried deep in the smallprint.
This surcharge “will not be more than the charges you would have paid… for the remainder of the minimum term…” which means it may cost you the same to cancel as it would to keep it until the 12 months is up.
Also bear in mind that by agreeing to the terms of the contract when you sign up you're authorising Sky to add the charge “directly to any of the credit or debit cards which you have provided us with details of”, although they will warn you before they do so.
Sky isn’t alone in charging for early termination but it’s important to be aware of all costs, and potential penalties before you sign on the dotted line.
The bottom line
You should now have enough information to make up your own mind about Sky broadband.
Having looked at all the facts and the feedback we’ve received from Sky customers we think that Sky broadband is amongst the best options available to UK consumers. If you live in a network area these packages offer good value for money, with no download restrictions with the unlimited options, and they complement the TV package perfectly - especially if you can get Sky Fibre.
We still recommend shopping around and comparing your options in case there are any better deals, but bear in mind that Sky broadband has a short 12 month contract and if you’ve already got Sky TV everything will be added onto your existing bill.
We hope you’ve found this guide useful, and we’d love to hear your feedback. If there’s anything you feel we’ve missed out, or if you’re a Sky broadband customer who’d like to share their experiences please leave us a comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Compare the best Sky broadband deals and offers
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