With over six million existing customers, Sky is one of the largest broadband providers in the UK. It covers 99% of the total population, so it’s a nigh-on certainty that the short answer to this question is yes. Better check, though, eh?
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Sky has two types of broadband widely available across the UK. Sky Fibre is Sky’s fast fibre optic broadband and Sky Broadband is Sky’s slower, standard ADSL broadband service.
Sky’s standard broadband uses the same copper wire network as phone lines. By installing its own equipment into Openreach telephone exchange cabinets on every street corner in the UK, Sky is able to offer its broadband service through the largest network available across the country.
As mentioned, it’s the slower of the two types of broadband, with download speeds averaging 10Mbps, compared to Sky Fibre download speeds that have a top average speed of 58Mbps. Whilst it may not be sufficient if your household regularly downloads huge videogames, streams films constantly or consists of more than two or three people with several phones and laptops between them, it is more than adequate for most people's day-to-day straightforward browsing requirements.
To give this speed some meaning, with Sky Broadband you can download an album in 25 seconds, a TV episode in 3 minutes 23 seconds, or a film in 7 minutes 14 seconds.
As the name suggests, Sky Broadband Unlimited is exactly that – unlimited. This means there is no limit to how much downloading and streaming you can do. Most broadband packages are now unlimited. Some providers use traffic management to artificially slow down the speed at peak times to keep it consistent for everyone, but Sky does not do this either.
Location is a key factor in broadband performance, in particular how close your house is to the nearest telephone exchange. The further away you are, the slower your broadband will be. This is the case for both standard and fibre broadband, although the effects are much less noticeable for fibre.
Performance can also be affected in densely populated areas such as city centres where lots of homes, flats and businesses share a broadband line from the same telephone exchange cabinet. If you live in a block of flats, the quality of the wiring throughout the building can also play a part in your broadband speed.
Whilst Sky doesn’t operate a traffic management policy for its broadband service, (when a provider deliberately slows speeds at peak times to keep everyone online – much like speed limits on a busy motorway), traditionally busy periods such evenings and weekends when everyone is online at the same time can still slow your connection down.
These days switching between broadband providers couldn’t be easier, because almost all UK providers operate on the same network. So if you’re an existing customer with BT, EE or TalkTalk for example, Sky will do all the hard work for you. All you need to do is contact Sky to place your order, tell them who you’re with, and a member of Sky’s Switch Squad will contact the provider to make the switch on your behalf.
The only exception to this is if you’re with a provider who isn’t part of the same network, namely, Virgin Media. In this case you would need to contact Virgin yourself and inform a representative of your decision to switch provider.
If you’re not actually switching providers and simply setting up a new contract, all you need to do is contact Sky to place your order.
You should work on a timeline of around two weeks between placing your order and having everything up and running. Sky will post your router equipment with an activation date. Set-up costs are around £20 for Sky Broadband with a postage fee of £9.95 for delivery and you can track your order online.
If you’re an existing Virgin Media customer, you should inform them of your activation date with Sky so as to co-ordinate the switchover with minimal – if any – loss of service.
As long as you have a BT-compatible landline there should be no need for an engineer to set everything up; all you need to do is follow the instructions provided and plug everything in on the date agreed. If you do need a new landline, there may be additional costs involved.
The installation time should only be a matter of minutes, or the time it takes you to plug your router into your phone line and connect up the devices within your home either wirelessly or using an ethernet cable. If everything has been done correctly you should be up and running straight away.
Whilst Sky’s standard broadband has a fairly complete reach across the UK, Sky’s fibre broadband network is not quite at the same stage as the separate equipment required for fibre is still being installed across the country.
If you’ve set your heart on a fibre broadband package as you feel the faster speeds would best suit the needs of your particular household or if you simply want a faster connection regardless of the extra cost but Sky Fibre isn’t available in your area, there are a couple of options open to you.
Depending on your requirements, you could opt for the standard broadband package and, as an existing Sky customer, upgrade to Sky Fibre as soon as it becomes available in your area. You may wish to go for a Sky Bundle package and have both your subscription TV and broadband with the same provider (more on this below). A 10Mbps download speed is adequate for most household internet requirements, including watching Sky’s Box Sets and On Demand content in HD.
Virgin Media offers the fastest fibre broadband speeds currently available anywhere in the UK with download speeds up to 350Mbps. So, don’t hang around for Sky if Virgin Media is in your area. Virgin Media’s subscription TV package is also the closest alternative to Sky’s in terms of content and service so if it’s a bundle package you’re after, you’re also in good hands.
Throughout this guide the main focus has been on Sky’s standard broadband package, but when you’re considering switching over to Sky you’ll no doubt have had one eye on the TV packages available as well.
Sky’s TV offering is still ahead of the pack with well over 300 channels to choose from and tons of different options available with Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Box Sets and On Demand across a huge range of different genres. And let's not forget the exclusive Sky Atlantic with its top-notch American drama series, including Game of Thrones and Westworld.
Until recently, standard broadband customers received the Sky Hub router. Now all Sky broadband customers – whether fibre or standard – receive the state-of-the-art Sky Q Hub router. With transfer speeds up to 1Gbps (one gigabit), compared to 100Mb from the old router, it’s fair to say this is a significant upgrade.
The Sky Q Hub router allows for the connection of up to 64 devices at one time and its Smart Signal technology creates multiple hotspots around the home meaning you should have no connectivity issues.
You can receive upload speeds of up to 1.3Mbps on the Sky Broadband Unlimited deal. Whilst this may sound low, be mindful that upload speeds are required for sending things from your computer (emails, images) rather than receiving, therefore a much lower speed is able to cope with this level of activity.
Yes you do, and be aware that this will result in additional set-up costs. Also, if you’re a tenant rather than a homeowner, it’s best to check your tenancy agreement to see if this is allowed, particularly if you live in an apartment building as special rules may apply.
Line rental is now included as standard with all broadband pricing, including Sky. Your broadband service is connected using the pre-existing phone line that runs into your home, so you have to pay for line rental even if you don't use your phone. The only mainstream provider that offers truly broadband-only deals is Virgin Media, but as there is so little difference in price between Virgin's broadband and phone and broadband-only packages, going broadband-only is barely worth it.
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