Aaron Howdle | May 25th, 2023
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 early satellite TV origins to become a major player in the broadband industry.
Rupert Murdoch introduced Sky Broadband to Britain in 2006 and it now has around 6.2 million customers. TalkTalk started out as a home telephone provider owned by Carphone Warehouse and now boasts around 4 million customers. So how do the two providers compare when it comes to the details of speed, packages, customer service, extras and more?
Here's a quick feature comparison on how BT and Sky stack up.
|Up to 900Mbps
|Up to 944Mbps
|Up to 110Mbps
|Up to 115Mbps
For most UK customers Sky and TalkTalk offer the same options when it comes to speed. Both offer standard broadband, fibre broadband and ultrafast, full fibre broadband, courtesy of the fibre rollout by network owner Openreach.TalkTalk wins here by offering both a faster regular fibre speed than Sky, and a slightly faster Ultrafast package too – where available.
Sky’s entry-level Broadband Essentials service offers an average speed of 11Mbps and is generally only available to customers who have no fibre service available in their area. For all other households, Sky advertises one regular fibre speed averaging 59Mbps, or a choice of three full fibre speeds for those homes in a full fibre area. These are 145Mbps, 500Mbps and 900Mbps.
TalkTalk also offers an entry-level standard broadband service for those who need it, known as Fast Broadband, which has an average speed of 11Mbps. Unlike Sky, TalkTalk still offers a choice of two regular fibre speeds, averaging 38Mbps and 67Mbps.
TalkTalk also offers three ultrafast speeds in those areas where Openreach has installed the full fibre cables. Customers can choose from 150Mbps, 500Mbps, and 900Mbps. TalkTalk claims that its 900Mbps speed averages 944Mbps, faster than Sky’s comparable package. TalkTalk also offers a slower full fibre speed, advertised as Fibre 65, but which averages 78Mbps.
Sky and TalkTalk both offer similar packages with similar speeds. However, Sky’s packages are all on an 18-month contract, whereas TalkTalk ties its customers in to 24 months. Plus, Sky offers a phone line to all customers, even those on full fibre, whereas TalkTalk does not.
With the exception of its Broadband Essentials package, none of Sky’s packages come with any upfront charges. All packages with a phone line are pay-as-you-go as standard, meaning you just pay for the calls that you make – ideal if you rarely use your landline or like to keep it in order to receive calls. Customers wanting to pay extra and bolt on a calls package can choose to do so – even for the full fibre packages that come with internet calls only. Choose from Evenings and Weekends, Anytime, or International bolt-ons.
All Sky’s packages come on 18-month contracts. Be aware that Sky may put its prices up mid-contract, but if it does, you are entitled to leave without penalty if you do so within a month of Sky informing you of intention to do this.
In comparison, all TalkTalk's packages come on 24-month contracts. There are no set-up fees for any of the regular or full fibre plans. The only package that does come with a set-up fee is TalkTalk’s standard, and slowest, broadband deal, somewhat inappropriately referred to as Fast Broadband.
TalkTalk may also put its prices up mid-contract, but as with Sky, you are entitled to leave without penalty if you do so within a month of receiving notice.
Customers wanting a phone line with a full fibre package may be disappointed as this is not available. Only customers on Fast Broadband, Fibre 35 or Fibre 65 can have a phone line, and the option to add a calls plan. Choose from unlimited, evenings and weekends, and international calls.
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Sky wins this one with its higher ratings for customer service. Although not the absolute best in the broadband market according to Ofcom (that honour goes to BT), Sky is firmly ahead of Talktalk when it comes to customer satisfaction, although TalkTalk does offer customers more way to get in touch directly than Sky.
Sky has won a stack of awards for its customer service in the past. However, in the latest Ofcom report, Sky ranked third for overall customer satisfaction with 84 per cent, behind BT in first place and EE in second place, but above the sector average of 83 per cent. More importantly, of those customers who did have a reason to complain, 54 per cent were satisfied with the way Sky dealt with their issue, putting Sky in second place after BT.
Sky customers with an issue are first directed to the numerous guides on Sky’s website, many of which may help you solve your problem. Sky can also be contacted via social media, via @SkyHelpTeam on Twitter. Customers wanting to pick up the phone to get in touch are likely to be disappointed as Sky does not even advertise a phone number any more.
TalkTalk did not fare so well in the most recent Ofcom report, with just 78 per cent customer satisfaction overall and only 43 per cent of customers satisfied with the way their complaint was handled (against a sector average of 50 per cent).
Having said that, TalkTalk does have the edge over Sky when it comes to communication with customers, with both a customer phone number and a web-based chat service where you can speak to an advisor directly. TalkTalk also has a presence on social media, on both Twitter @TalkTalk and on Facebook for customers seeking advice and assistance, as well as an online community where customers can discuss issues with other customers.
TalkTalk wins when it comes to technology by offering the more advanced Amazon eero router for its full fibre customers. Sky’s Broadband Hub is a good bit of kit, but is only Wifi 5, compared to the Amazon eero Wifi 6, which more comfortably supports the ultrafast speeds.
All Sky customers receive the same dual-band, flagship Sky Broadband Hub router, whether you are on basic broadband, fibre broadband or full fibre broadband. This router will support a wifi connection for up to 64 devices, has eight antennas for optimal wi-fi reach, and four 1Gb Ethernet ports for fast, wired connections.
Sky also offers its WiFi Boosters for customers who cannot receive a strong wifi signal throughout their home. Customers will have to sign up to Sky Broadband Boost for an extra fiver a month, but will then be provided with as many boosters as necessary to achieve a fast reliable wifi signal around your home.
Unlike Sky, TalkTalk provides different routers depending on the broadband package you choose. The WiFi Hub is supplied to all regular fibre customers that have signed up to Fibre 35 or Fibre 65. Like the Sky Broadband Hub, it features dual-band technology and seven antennas that should reduce wireless interference throughout your home, as well as four gigabit Ethernet ports.
For TalkTalk customers on a full fibre service, TalkTalk provides the superior Amazon Eero router. This Wifi 6 router enables the faster speeds of the full fibre packages and can be paired with an additional eero to create a blanket of wifi coverage around your whole home.
Both providers offer a good range of security features, but the fact that Sky’s security software is free, along with the free Cloud wi-fi access on offer clinches it for Sky.
Sky's customers receive a range of security features, which include a 3-month free 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 customers can also take advantage of free wifi access to The Cloud wi-fi hotspots all over the country when out and about.
TalkTalk offers a bunch of security features via its Homesafe system, which provides network-level virus alerts and the KidSafe parental controls, which uses filters to stop undesirable content appearing on the kids’ tablets. It also offers Supersafe as an optional extra, which will protect you from viruses on up to ten devices for £5 per month. This also helps you keep passwords secure and enables you to locate and wipe lost devices.
Sky and TalkTalk offer such a similar set of products that choosing between them can be a difficult choice. Sky leads with its good customer service record and its free comprehensive security software.
However, TalkTalk is, on average, cheaper than Sky, and customers signing up for the full fibre packages will receive the superior Amazon eero router. Plus, TalkTalk makes it easier for customers to get in touch, so unless you are concerned by TalkTalk’s less than perfect customer service history, we would say give TalkTalk a go.