By Marc Shoffman | Monday, January 28th 2019
Sky is a giant of the broadband world, while EE is looking to take its mobile clout onto the internet patch. We have an attacker and a defender then. But which one is best?
UK households have been enjoying Sky broadband since its launch in 2006, whereas EE is comparatively still a baby, having inherited customers following its takeover of Orange and its internet services in 2012. But EE knows a bit about communications, having the UK’s largest 4G network and ownership of the T-Mobile and Orange brands. Plus, it now has the power of BT as its owner.
Sky and EE both run on the Openreach network, but their average speeds differ slightly. For standard broadband, Sky offers 11Mbps download speed, and EE offers 10Mbps. For entry-level fibre only EE offers 36Mbps average speeds, with Sky now skipping this speed level. EE pips Sky to the post at the top speeds by offering 67Mbps against Sky's 59Mbps. Decent download speeds are an important factor, so you know there won’t be too much buffering as you stream films, listen to music or play video games.
But it is also important to know how long it will take to upload photos and send emails – actions like these come under the heading of upload speed. You will get upload speeds of 1Mbps with both Sky's and EE’s 10Mbps package.
EE has a decent 10Mbps upload speed on its 36Mbps fibre package, while Sky now has no equivalent low-end fibre deal. EE's 19.5Mbps on the top fibre offerings beats Sky's 18Mbps. Most people won't ever notice a problem with upload, as it's only useful for a few specialised tasks and doesn't often come into play during everyday use.
There isn’t much between these two on speeds, although EE beats Sky on the top-level fibre. Both are pretty good for both downloads and uploads so you will be getting reliable internet whichever you choose.
EE offers three different broadband speeds to SKy's two. They both operate on the Openreach network, which is used by the vast majority of broadband providers. EE’s Unlimited Broadband offers 10Mbps, and EE Fibre Broadband offers 36Mbps. It fastest package is Fibre Plus Broadband, offering 67Mbps. EE users get monthly line rental and unlimited usage included as standard. Set-up fees tend to vary across packages.
Sky offers only two package levels by comparison (the 11Mbps Sky Broadband Essential, and 59Mbps Sky Broadband Superfast packages). Both providers are pretty rigid on contract lengths. All EE’s deals are for 18 months, as are Sky’s packages.
Both providers offer pay-as-you-go calls as standard, with options to add on call packages if you wish.
There isn’t much to differentiate these two on packages, with EE just pipping Sky to the post on speed with its top fibre package.
EE does pretty well when it comes to customer service. The latest Ofcom figures show only 12% of EE customers have had reason to raise issues, which is below the industry average of 13%.
In comparison, 12% of Sky customers raised issues, the highest percentage among all providers. EE customers tend to get through to customer services pretty fast, with average waiting times of just 52 seconds, compared with a typical 2 minutes 51 seconds across all broadband providers. Sky takes slightly longer to pick up the phone, at 1 minute 42 seconds.
There are some key differences in how the two providers will talk to customers though. EE offers customer service in branch and through its call centres between 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 8pm on weekends, but its live chat online doesn’t cater for broadband. There is an EE customer forum where you can raise issues and see if others are facing similar problems and find solutions.
EE does offer an extra nifty service though. Customers can get issues addressed, and hopefully resolved, using video calls. This can make it easier to explain concerns as it can often be hard to get understood on the phone.
If you go with Sky, there will be more hours in the day to reach its customer services. It is open seven days a week with two-hour flexible appointments as well as live chat online between 7am and 11pm and a telephone contact centre that you can ring between 8am and 9pm.
Sky also comes out better in terms of how complaints are handled, with 61% happy with how issues are resolved, compared with 53% at EE, and the industry average of 56%
Both Sky and EE offer a little extra to switchers. Sky’s Switch Squad will manage your move for you so you don’t even have to tell your old provider that you are leaving, while EE will provide £50 credit for anyone charged exit fees when changing supplier.
Sky and EE score highly for customer service and seem easy to get hold of, while resolving problems well when they arise. This is reassuring for customers of either provider as you know you have a better chance of being treated well. EE may not provide the online live chat service that Sky does but it at least thinks outside the box with its video chat, which should make it easier to explain issues.
The technology you get with EE depends on the package you choose. Standard broadband users get the EE Bright Box, which supports remote assistance, has four ethernet ports and a built-in dual-band antenna. Fibre broadband customers get better tech with EE’s Smart Hub. It comes with seven internal antennas, dual wi-fi bands, four ethernet ports and the ability to set when certain devices can access it.
In contrast, Sky gives all its customers the same router. You will get the Sky Q Hub with all its broadband packages, whether it is fibre or not. This makes it easier to upgrade. The Sky Q Hub comes with two ethernet ports, a 2.4GHz and 5GHz antenna, and will let you connect up to 64 devices at the same time.
Broadband customers don’t like being treated differently to each other, especially if they are using the same provider. So Sky wins on this round as no matter what package you choose, you will always get its most up-to-date technology with the Sky Q system, unlike EE, which reserves its best router for fibre customers.
All EE’s broadband packages are accompanied by a year’s free Norton Security Premium, which can be used on up to 10 devices. You also get parental controls. EE mobile users who sign up for broadband can also get a free data boost of 5GB on a pay monthly mobile or 12-month SIM-only plan. The data allowance is boosted by 50GB if you are on its Max plans.
Sky also offers virus protection, through a McAfee Internet Security Suite trial for 12 months. It also has Sky Broadband Shield that lets you filter websites and customise your privacy settings into age categories. You can also set age rating restrictions depending on the time of day. This could be a good way to get the kids off their devices at bedtime.
You can also use your internet on the move with the Sky WiFi app, although EE can boast about its extensive 4G coverage for mobile customers.
There isn’t much difference in the extras between these two as both offer the typical internet security and parental controls. You can only really get EE’s other extras if you are a mobile customer, while Sky deserves a big tick on this one for offering wi-fi on the move.
The Sky WiFi app can be accessed in coffee shops and public places across the UK. Many may already offer wi-fi access through The Cloud, but these can get busy so this provides another hotspot option if available.
Both Sky and EE bring decent speeds, packages and top customer service. But if you want a service that will actually help you leave your old provider, with long customer service hours, then Sky is most probably the winner of this battle.