On paper, both companies offer some pretty similar services. TalkTalk stakes its reputation on providing a decent service at an affordable price, whereas Sky has seen its market share increase over the years, spreading out from its satellite TV origins to become a major player in the industry.
Rupert Murdoch introduced Sky Broadband to Britain in 2006 after purchasing EasyNet, and since then its market share has grown to 24% in the UK.
TalkTalk started out as a home telephone provider owned by Carphone Warehouse and in 2006, it began offering free broadband to its phone customers. In recent years TalkTalk's market share has dropped to just 12% of UK broadband users, largely as a result of past issues with security.
Sky offer two speeds of broadband, starting with its Broadband Essentials service that offers an average speed of 11Mbps. Previously advertised as up to 17Mbps, this is the entry-level speed common to most other broadband providers and is fine for two or three devices.
For households where broadband gets heavier use, or for those who hate waiting for downloads to complete, Sky offers one fibre package (previously two). Sky Broadband Superfast averages 59Mbps.
TalkTalk's Fast Broadband is advertised as having an average speed of 11Mbps, while its two fibre offerings come with averages of 36Mbps and 63Mbps.
However, it's worth mentioning that if you are lucky enough to live in the city of York, you can take advantage of a new 1Gbps (1000Mbps) broadband service called TalkTalk Ultra Fibre Optic. Unfortunately those outside York can't get this yet.
Neither Sky nor TalkTalk employ traffic management at peak times. This means your internet connection will never be artificially slowed down during busy times of the day.
For most UK customers Sky and TalkTalk offer the same options when it comes to speed. However, if you live in York, TalkTalk's Ultra Fibre Optic offers ridiculously high speeds, far beyond the needs of most households, with the result that in York, TalkTalk wins by a mile.
Sky offers both standard broadband and fast fibre broadband. Sky Broadband Essential is the basic, non-fibre broadband package, with an 18-month minimum contract. It comes with line rental included and a small upfront cost. No calls are included, but you can choose to bolt on a call plan if you want.
Sky's fibre package comes on an 18-month contract, and again, comes with line rental but no inclusive calls. The set-up fee for Sky's fibre packages is generally more expensive.
Sky's Switch Squad will handle the move from your existing provider, with the exception of Virgin Media. This is because Virgin runs on its own, separate network.
Sky also warns that prices can go up during your contract. So it's worth reading the small print before you commit.
In comparison, all three of TalkTalk's packages come on 18-month contracts, come with unlimited usage and include line rental. There are no set-up fees either. TalkTalk will handle the switch from your existing provider, so no uncomfortable phone calls are required.
The previously mentioned, any lucky inhabitants of York can sign up for 1Gb Ultra Fibre Optic, on a 24-month contract, which comes at a similar monthly cost to its Faster Fibre deal.
TalkTalk guarantees no price rises during the course of your contract, plus its simple product range offers the same packages to both new and existing customers.
Sky and TalkTalk offer some fairly similar packages (although Sky has one fewer, which makes it arguably simpler), but TalkTalk has a larger choice of contract lengths, no set-up fees and fixed-prices for the length of its contracts. So in this category TalkTalk is the winner.
Sky has won a stack of awards for its customer service, and this is reflected in figures from the regulator,with Ofcom putting Sky top of the league when it comes to customer satisfaction. Sky received only seven complaints for every 100,000 customers last year.
Sky provides support via live web chat, email, or its customer care line, which is live between 8.30am and 11.30pm, seven days a week. On average, Sky customers wait 1 minute and 42 seconds to have their call answered by customer service, which is significantly faster than the industry average of 2 minutes and 51 seconds.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for TalkTalk, which remains Britain's most complained-about home telecoms provider, according to Ofcom, with complaints topping 30 per 100,000 customers.
Having said that, TalkTalk offers a customer service line which has pretty good opening hours, though they vary day to day, so it can be tricky remembering when they will be there to answer your call. The hours are: Monday to Thursday 8am–10pm, Friday 8am–9pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am–8pm. There is also a 24/7 web-based chat service to help with problems and also online FAQs you can consult.
Sky wins this one by a country mile due to its great customer service and the ease of communication with customer support. TalkTalk's customers complain about its service four times more than Sky's customers, so on this subject, Sky wins.
With all Sky Broadband packages, customers receive the Sky Q Hub, a great step up from its previous Sky Hub router. The Sky Q Hub allows connection of up to 64 devices, has 2.4GHZ and 5GHz antennas for optimal reach and a pair of fast, 1Gb Ethernet ports for wired connections.
TalkTalk provides its latest, new and improved router, the WiFi Hub, free to all customers. Like the Sky Q Hub, it features dual-band technology and seven antennas that should reduce wireless interference throughout your home, as well as four gigabit Ethernet ports.
Both routers are capable of using the 5GHZ (802.11ac) standard, which should create more reliable connections to the router over wi-fi for compatible devices.
Comparing the two routers, the Sky Q Hub has a richer feature set than the new TalkTalk WiFi Hub, but only just.
Sky's customers receive a range of security features, which include a 12-month trial of McAfee Internet Security Suite and Sky Broadband Shield. The latter allows users to set up privacy rules and limit content available to different age groups within their household. There is also a Watershed feature, which restricts unsavoury content while the kids are still awake.
Sky's customers can also get the Sky Wifi App, which enables access to wi-fi hotspots all over the country for up to six devices.
TalkTalk also offers a bunch of security features via its Homesafe system, which provides virus alerts, E-safety advice for parents, and filters to stop undesirable content appearing on the kids’ tablets. It also offers the Supersafe Boost, which will protect you from viruses on yoru main computer. To protect up to seven other devices you can pay an extra £2 per month.
Both providers offer a good range of security features, but Sky's Wifi App clinches it for Sky. Free wi-fi on the move means you can save your phone's 4G allowance for when it's really needed.
Sky and TalkTalk offer such a similar set of products that any competition comes down to equipment and customer service. On the equipment front, Sky has an easy win, and the same applies to customer service, where Sky is the industry leader.
Meanwhile, TalkTalk is still deemed the worst major provider when it comes to customer service. If you live in York, TalkTalk's 1Gb Ultra Fibre Optic is worth a look, but overall Sky is the real winner here.
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