By Dan Howdle | Friday, February 7th 2020
Sky is one of the giants of the broadband (and TV) world with literally millions of subscribers in the UK at the start of 2020. But the landscape is changing, and with increasing competition to subscription/satellite TV, is Sky's broadband offering still doing the business, or is is falling behind the herd?
|Download speed||11Mb, 59Mb|
|Upload speed||1.3Mb, 19Mb|
|Broadband||ADSL & Fibre|
|Prices from||£22 per month|
Sky offers two packages, both with unlimited usage, so there are no limits on streaming or downloading. The only restriction comes from the speed you choose.
Its basic 'Essential' package offers download speeds averaging 11Mbps and comes on an 18-month contract. This is fast enough for small households with one or two occupants who only stream movies or TV to one TV at a time.
Sky’s premium 'Superfast' offers averages of 59Mbps – both the fibre contracts last for 18 months.
The numbers themselves may very well be somewhat meaningless to you. So to get an idea of which is right for you, we generally recommend you allocate 10Mbps for each member of the household that uses the internet at the same time as others. So, if you're a couple, say, and your main internet use is watching Netflix together, Sky's 11Mbps ADSL broadband should be fine, so long as you're not watching it in 4K on a 4K TV, in which case you'll need Sky Superfast.
It is also worth checking upload speeds as these give you an idea of how long it will take to put attachments on emails, or upload images and videos. You will get upload speeds of 1.3Mbps on Sky’s Essential deal, and 19Mbps on Sky Superfast.
In comparison, BT offers 1Mbps with its standard broadband, 9.5Mbps on its Superfast Fibre (previously BT Infinity 1) and 19Mbps on its Superfast Fibre 2 (previously Infinity 2), while Virgin Media provides just 3Mbps with its 54Mbps service. If you want to get close to 20Mbps upload speed with Virgin Media, you'll need its fastest, most expensive M350 package.
Each broadband provider has its own way of enticing new customers. Sky's tack is it tends to offer a combination of cut-down prices and the odd cashback or voucher – often both at the same time.
This is good in one sense – you get a cheaper price and a little something extra. However, it does make it more difficult to work out exactly what value you're getting from a Sky deal compared to the competition. Below is a sample of deals currently on offer from Sky.
Sky used to provide its Essential broadband customers with the Sky Hub, while Superfast users got the more pristine Sky Q Hub. Now everyone gets the same premium router when signing up as a new customer no matter which package you choose.
The Sky Q Hub lets you connect up to 64 devices at once and uses its own Smart Signal Technology to optimise your wi-fi connection and create hotpots around the home so you can stay connected no matter what room you are in.
It also comes with a handy four ethernet ports, unlike its predecessor which had only two.
Installation of Sky broadband takes about two weeks from the time you order. Sky will write to you to confirm an activation date. If you’ve ordered Sky Broadband and you don’t have a suitable phone line, then an appointment will be made for an Openreach engineer to come and install a new one before your services are activated.
This could delay your activation, but you can track the whole process online to see when your broadband will start. Sky will send your brand new router in the post for £9.95 and there is also likely to be an activation fee.
Once the router arrives and your broadband is activated you will need to set it up yourself. Sky provides step-by-step instructions on its website showing how to set up the Sky routers and connect your devices either wirelessly or through a wired connection.
It is recommended that you place your router in an open, ventilated space and close to your master phone socket in order to get the best speed. (This will most likely be the socket that has an Openreach logo on it or a line in the middle.)
If you can’t find a master socket, you can connect your Hub to a convenient socket, but your broadband may not perform as well.
Sky also does well with customer satisfaction. It has been recognised by the likes of YouGov for its customer service and Ofcom reports also show it ranks as the best provider when it comes to handling complaints well when they arise.
You can contact Sky customer service seven days a week either on live chat between 7am and 11pm or through its telephone contact centre, which is open between 8am and 9pm.
Sky also helps with the scary side of switching – informing your old provider. If you are moving from BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet or any other provider on Openreach, Sky’s Switch Squad will manage the whole move for you. Just tell them who your old provider is and it will all get sorted within two weeks.
The exception to this is if you are moving from Virgin Media. Because Virgin runs its own network, you will have to make the cancellation call yourself.
It's fair to say that without those things that make a broadband providers' offering unique, one broadband service can in most of the important ways be much like another. Here's what makes Sky stand out.
If you want a provider with a track record for good customer service and reliable broadband, then Sky gets a big tick. It offers a good range of broadband speeds for all types of households. However, its set-up costs are on the high side, and if you aren't planning to bundle Sky TV there are cheaper (and faster) providers.
Having said that, the Sky switch squad will help you manage the whole switch and set you up with some great kit. All-in-all a great provider, but compare all broadband deals carefully if getting just broadband on its own as there will be cheaper options.