Dan Howdle | February 14th, 2023
With fibre broadband now available across vast swathes of the country, it can be difficult to know which provider to choose. As a result, many of us will simply plump for one of the biggest names, such as BT or Sky, two of the best-known broadband providers in the UK.
Both BT and Sky use the Openreach network to supply their services, and offer a wide range of speeds and packages. However, slight differences emerge when it comes to choice, customer service, technology and the all-important extras. Here’s how the two heavyweights stack up against each other.
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
As always, speed is the name of the game when it comes to making your broadband choice. BT wins here by offering not only a wider selection but a far higher top speed with its premium Full Fibre 900Mbps broadband package.
Until recently, Sky offered one regular superfast fibre speed, averaging 61Mbps. However, it has also now entered the next-generation fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) market by offering its Ultrafast, Ultrafast Plus and Gigafast packages, averaging 145Mbps, 500Mbps and 900Mbps respectively.
However, this is a limited choice of speeds when compared to BT, whose range starts with Fibre Essential, at 36Mbps. Customers can also choose from 50Mbps and 67Mbps average speeds with the Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 packages. From there you move up to the Ultrafast FTTP options, which offer a choice of 150Mbps, 500Mbps and a blisteringly fast 900Mbps – if you're lucky enough to live in an property where FTTP is available (currently over six million homes). In short, BT is both faster than Sky and offers a wider selection of download speeds.
Download speed dictates how well you can stream TV or download pictures and music. But when you want to send large files and conduct conference calls, you will also need a decent upload speed. As you'd expect, upload speeds rise roughly in line with the download speeds, although the figure is always significantly lower. In short, this means Sky's fibre broadband upload speeds range from about 9Mbps up to 60Mbps, with BT's ranging from the same 9Mbps up to a theoretical 110Mbps. Which is really very, very quick, and far more than almost anyone needs.
BT does better for choice than Sky, with six speed options rather than three. BT's average top speed comfortably beats Sky to the post, and BT also allows you to opt out of having a landline with its regular fibre packages as well as with its full fibre packages – all of which come without a traditional landline as standard.
As mentioned above, Sky offers just three fibre broadband packages: Superfast 61Mbps, Ultrafast 145Mbps and Ultrafast Plus 500Mbps. All come with pay-as-you-go calls as standard, no download limits (which is pretty much standard these days) and are all only available on 18-month contracts.
BT has significantly more choice by offering three regular fibre options – Fibre Essential with 36Mbps download speeds, Fibre 1 with average speed of 50Mbps, and Fibre 2 which averages 67Mbps. To this they've added their three Full Fibre FTTP packages – Full Fibre 100, 500 and 900. All BT’s packages come on an 18-month contract, and you can choose whether to have an active landline or not – it's no longer offered by default, and you'll have to pay extra. On top of that, you can of course bolt on anytime calls. Naturally, there are no download limits.
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There is generally very little to choose between the two when it comes to standards of customer service, with both providers ranking high overall against many others in the broadband market. However, Sky makes it rather difficult to find the contact information on its website, and so BT’s clarity wins when it comes to customer service.
Sky ranks highly for customer satisfaction and regularly gets awards for its work. The latest industry data from Ofcom shows BT ranked best for customer satisfaction with 88% of customers saying they were satisfied with their service. Sky was close behind with 84% of satisfied customers, beaten into second place by EE on 85%..
The average percentage of customers with reason to complain across all broadband providers was 20%. Sky was comfortably below this average with 16%, with BT on 18%. When complaints did arise, 55% of BT customers were happy with how their issue was dealt with, against 54% of Sky customers. Both providers were above the average of 50%. Sky customers face a 2 minute 17 second wait when attempting to get through to the call centre while BT’s average time on hold was measurably better at just 1 minute 46 seconds. For the sake of comparison, the average across the sector was 2 minutes 16 seconds.
If you do need to get in touch, Sky doesn’t make it easy to get on touch directly, preferring instead to direct you to its range of problem-solving articles online and the Sky Community to get answers. However, customers can access live chat online between 8.30am and 7.30pm or call the contact centre on 0333 7591 018.
In comparison, BT is more upfront about how customers can get in touch and offers its live chat service seven days a week from 7am to 10.30pm. Alternatively customers can call on 0330 1234 150 seven days a week. Both providers are also contactable on Twitter.
Both are pretty much neck-and-neck on tech. They get green points for energy saving and the ability to connect a multitude of devices, as well as for the optional wifi extending tech. BT just takes this one as it offers its mini EE 4G router to keep you online even if your fibre connection goes down – albeit at extra cost.
Both providers offer pretty nifty technology. BT fibre customers get a Smart Hub, kitted out with seven antennas that locate the best frequencies for the top speeds and are also set up to cope with faster speeds in the future, so if BT brings out improved packages you won’t need a new router. The hub has an energy-saving mode when not in use and also constantly monitors your internet connection and if it spots a problem, it will quietly reboot and make a fresh connection.
In addition to the Smart Hub, customers can also sign up for BT Hybrid Connect. For an extra monthly fee, BT customers will receive a second mini router, powered by E’s 45/5G network, that will automatically kick in if your fibre broadband goes down, ensuring you have a constant connection.
A third piece of tech on offer from BT is the wifi extender, supplied to customers signing up for BT’s Complete Wifi scheme. This increases the reach of your wifi throughout your home, and BT is so convinced it works that it offers a £100 money back guarantee if it doesn’t.
Sky fibre customers get equally good equipment with the Sky Broadband Hub router. It has four gigabit ethernet ports, eight antennas, plus you can connect up to 64 devices. It is designed to save energy and will automatically switch to low power mode when not in use.
Like BT, Sky also offers some additional tech to improve your home wifi. The Sky WiFi Booster works as a wifi extender, increasing the reach of your home wifi. Sky claims that if it doesn’t work, it will refund the cost, providing a reassuring guarantee.
You get useful wifi on the move and virus protection with both providers. BT wins this one though as its hotspots are more widespread, and you get free cloud storage too. Depending on any current offers, you may also get a significant cashback offer – not an 'extra' as such, but certainly extra value.
Sky customers receive the Sky Broadband Shield security package free that lets you filter websites and customise your privacy settings into age categories. You can also use its helpful watershed feature that lets you set age-rating restrictions depending on the time of day.
Sky customers also get access to the Sky WiFi app while on the move. This provides free and unlimited wi-fi in thousands of popular places across the UK such as hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, courtesy of The Cloud. Once you’ve logged in for the first time, you will automatically be able to connect to any Sky WiFi hotspot in future.
Sky regularly offers special broadband deals with cashback, so it's always worth keeping an eye on what’s available if you’re on the market for a new deal.
BT offers similar extras such as virus protection with BT Virus Protect (powered by McAfee) and you can get up to 1000GB of storage in the BT Cloud depending on which fibre package you choose. BT customers also get free access to five million BT WiFi hotspots around the UK.
BT and Sky are, by and large, neck and neck on customer satisfaction. BT has the edge with its five million free wifi hotspots and optional EE 4G broadband back-up, which it refers to as “unbreakable wifi”. Both providers offer top-of-the-range tech and excellent TV deals to add onto their broadband services (although some would argue that's really Sky's trump card), but if you are just looking for a reliable fibre provider, BT does offer a wider choice of packages and, with its 900Mbps package, a much faster top speed than Sky.