Dan Howdle | April 25th, 2023
Sky and BT are two of the biggest names in British broadband, each offering a range of fast fibre and full fibre packages to suit virtually every need.
BT needs no introduction, having offered communications services to consumers for decades, while Sky is best known for the satellite television service it has offered since the early 1990s. In 2006, Sky introduced its broadband services, and competition has become fierce between the two providers since then.
If you’re after a TV service to go with your broadband, then the equation is a little bit more complex, but if it’s a straight shoot-out on broadband then the two are evenly matched. So which one of these heavyweights is right for you?
Here's a quick feature comparison on how BT and Sky stack up.
|Up to 900Mbps
|Up to 900Mbps
|Up to 110Mbps
|Up to 100Mbps
BT wins when it comes to speed, purely by offering more choice than Sky. BT offers six broadband speeds against Sky’s five, offering more choice at the lower (and cheaper) end of the speed scale, with three superfast fibre speeds of 36Mbps, 50Mbps and 74Mbps. Sky keeps it simple with just two superfast fibre speeds of 36Mbps and 61Mbps. Both providers now only offer slow ADSL standard broadband (averaging 10Mbps) to customers that still cannot get superfast fibre.
When it comes to something considerably faster, Sky offers its two ultrafast packages, averaging 145Mbps and 500Mbps, as well as its premium Gigafast service of 900Mbps. In comparison, BT offers its three Full Fibre services of 100Mbps, 500Mbps and 900Mbps.
Both Sky and BT operate over the Openreach broadband network, which is now rapidly rolling out pure fibre connections across the country, with the aim of covering 85% of the country with gigabit broadband in the next few years. To see if you can get these ultra high speed connections at your address, simply visit the availability checker on our website.
Sky wins due to the fact that it only ties its customers into an 18-month contract – regardless of which package they choose – compared to the rather lengthy 24 months demanded by BT. In most other ways the two providers offer very similar packages.
Both Sky and BT packages all come with a phone line and pay-as-you-go calls as standard, but the full fibre, ultrafast packages will come with an internet phone line rather than a traditional phone line. This is due to the fact that the old copper phone lines are slowly being phased out. You will still be able to use your landline in the same way, and you can still keep your current phone number if you wish.
Regardless of whether you choose BT or Sky, you just need to tell your new provider that you are planning to switch. They’ll tell your old provider and then both will write to you to confirm the details. The exception is if you are currently with Virgin Media, in which case you’ll also have to tell Virgin you are leaving.
Customers looking for a broadband and TV package are well catered for by both Sky or BT. Originally Sky was king when it came to subscription TV, but with BT TV packages now coming with the NOW Entertainment channels as standard (including Sky Atlantic), and the option to bolt on NOW TV Cinema or Sports as well, there is little to choose between the two.
Both Sky and BT have pretty good records when it comes to customer service, but according to Ofcom’s most recent report on the subject, BT is currently leading the way, with 88% customer satisfaction with the service overall, against 84% for Sky. Both providers are above the sector average of 83% however, so you can expect a high standard whichever you choose.
Delving a little deeper into Ofcom’s report reveals that Sky has the fewest number of customers with a reason to complain, and only 21 Ofcom complaints per 100,000 customers against 42 for BT. Still, these are tiny numbers and generally reflect a high standard of customer satisfaction.
When it comes to satisfaction with the speed of the service, Sky and BT are neck and neck, with BT just 1% ahead of Sky on 83%, against Sky’s 82% – a negligible difference. BT does however take the lead on average call waiting times for customers wanting to get through on the phone, averaging 1 minute and 42 seconds against 2 minutes and 17 seconds for Sky. However, with the ongoing push for customers to make contact online rather than over the phone, this statistic is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
There’s little to choose between the two in terms of equipment, with Sky providing its Broadband Hub and BT providing its BT Smart Hub to customers. Sky wins by offering the same router to all its customers, whereas only those subscribing to BT Complete Wifi will get BT’s Smart Hub 2.
Both routers have smart signal technology to optimise the wireless connection and can connect up to 64 devices at once. They also have four gigabit ethernet ports so you can connect up to four wired devices to get the optimum speed. The SKy Broadband Hub has eight antennae against seven on the BT Smart Hub, and the BT Smart Hub 2 is DECT phone compatible, which the Sky Hub is not, although this is really only relevant for those that still use their landlines and like to wander around with a cordless phone.
When it comes to concerns about your wifi signal, both providers offer a solution. Sky offers its Sky Broadband Boost which guarantees a minimum speed in every room of your house, and BT offers its Complete Wifi system to do the same. Both services come at an extra monthly fee on top of your broadband service.
If sport is a priority for you, then BT is the clear winner by offering free BT Sport online for all BT broadband customers. When it comes to free wifi, Sky and BT are equally matched.
If you opt for Sky broadband then you’ll get access to the Sky Wi-Fi nationwide network of hotspots, allowing you to use your laptop while you’re out and about, or to save your mobile data allowance should you need to. But this is matched by BT, which will give you free access to the vast BT Wi-Fi network.
As mentioned the big plus of going with BT broadband is the free online access to BT Sport. Customers can watch live on the BT Sport website or via the BT Sport app on a phone or tablet. To watch BT Sport on TV, you will also need to sign up for a BT TV package as well.
Since joining forces with EE, BT also offers exclusive EE SIM-only deals to its new broadband customers that offer huge savings against the price of a comparable, regular EE deal.
Sky uniquely offers a loyalty programme to which all customers can join from the word go. Known as Sky VIP, it is a tiered loyalty system whereby the longer you stay with Sky, the more benefits you can enjoy. From free films and competitions to walk-on parts in your favourite shows, Sky VIP offers something different to its customers.
There’s really very little to differentiate between Sky and BT, with both providers offering a very similar choice of broadband speeds, good quality routers and high levels of customer service and satisfaction, so it may ultimately come down to the details, or more likely, the price. If you plan on taking out a mobile or TV subscription as well, it pays to see what bundles are available, and from time to time, BT Reward Cards that effectively offer cash back in your pocket are available.
Customers who like the idea of free BT Sport would benefit from signing up to BT, whereas customers more interested in being rewarded for their loyalty may want to consider Sky. Ultimately it will come down to the speed you want and the price you are prepared to pay.