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Can I get Sky fibre broadband in my area?

By Mike Whitehead
Wednesday, April 25th 2018

Sky uses the Openreach network to supply its fibre broadband services. Openreach is the largest fibre broadband network in the UK, covering more than 27 million homes and business premises. Just use our postcode checker to find out for sure.

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The best way to be sure you can get Sky Fibre is to check for yourself that your own area is covered. Simply enter your postcode below and we'll be able to show you all the available providers in your area.

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Is Sky Fibre available everywhere?

Despite Sky utilising the Openreach network, which offers the most widespread coverage throughout the country, it’s not necessarily the case that Sky’s fibre broadband will be available in your area even if BT fibre is.

This all depends on whether your local telephone exchange has been installed with Sky’s own equipment. It may be equipped for fibre, but that does not mean it’s been equipped for Sky. However, since all providers upgrade their coverage, it would be quite unusual for this to be the case.

What’s the difference between Sky Fibre and Sky Broadband Unlimited?

Sky Fibre is Sky’s fibre optic broadband, which is a lot faster than Sky standard broadband, and slightly more expensive. Both types of broadband are widely available across the UK and both come with unlimited usage.

Sky’s standard unlimited broadband uses the same copper wire network that's used for phone lines for the entire length of the connection. It’s the slower of the two types so takes longer to do any of the heavy lifting expected of broadband such as downloading large game files for an Xbox or PS4.

Sky Fibre uses fibre optic cables for the journey to your local cabinet, but from there on also relies on the old copper telephone wires to reach your home. The distance between the cabinet and your home is known within the telecoms industry as 'the last mile'. So, whilst Sky Fibre is typically twice as fast as Sky Broadband because the majority of the distance is covered by the fibre cables, the last mile can still cause a fibre connection to slow down.

How does it all work?

Sky Fibre uses Openreach's fibre optic cables to deliver data to your home. The glass fibre cables allow data to travel much faster than it can along old copper wires. These cables are connected through cabinets and telephone exchanges to form a network.

A full fibre service – where the fibre connection goes all the way into your home – is known as FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises). Only a handful of specialist providers with their own networks, such as Gigaclear and Hyperoptic, are thus far able to offer this technology to the consumer, whereby customers can enjoy speeds of up to 1000Mbps. But that's fine because most people don't need anything like that amount of speed.

The Openreach network is set up on a FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) basis, with fibre optic cables only running as far as your local street cabinet. The distance between your property and the cabinet can affect the speed of your connection. The further away it is, the slower your connection will be.

This is because the last section of cabling, from the cabinet to your home, relies on the old copper telephone wires, and copper cannot transmit data at the same speed as fibre. Equally, in densely-packed areas, such as city centres, where lots of homes, flats and businesses all share a broadband line from the same cabinet, speed can also be an issue, as the more connections are shared, the slower each connection will be.

The top speed available on the Openreach network, which is offered by almost all providers, averages 67Mbps. This is ample for the requirements of most households, and will comfortably support several people online at once, whether gaming, streaming TV or just browsing.

If I can’t get Sky Fibre in my area, what are my options?

the sky q box

If Sky Fibre isn’t yet available in your neck of the woods, don’t despair. It's worth considering some of the alternatives on offer, which may well adequately cater for your needs:

Go for Sky’s standard broadband

A standard broadband connection offering an average of 11Mbps is usually more than sufficient for most everyday internet requirements. You’ll be able to do all your general browsing whilst enjoying streaming in HD. A lot of us prefer to have our broadband and TV packages with the same provider and, if you sign up to Sky standard broadband, you’ll easily be able to upgrade to Sky Fibre when it becomes available. With the exception of Virgin Media, all other providers will only be able to offer you the same broadband speeds, so there is little point going anywhere else.

If Virgin Media is available in your area, go for it

Don’t hang around for Sky Fibre if you don’t have to, especially if your main objective is to get fast fibre broadband. Virgin now offers up to 350Mbps broadband – outstripping Sky Fibre by miles. Virgin’s TV packages are also the closest alternatives to Sky’s, both in terms of content and service. So if Virgin Media is in your area and you’re happy to sign up – take it.

Register your interest and wait

If you'd prefer to sit and wait for Sky Fibre to arrive, then just make sure you register your interest in fibre with BT directly. As mentioned, Sky Fibre uses the Openreach network. So, when BT fibre becomes available, Sky Fibre should be hot on its heels. You could also give your neighbours a nudge to do the same, which may encourage BT to act faster. BT is unlikely to give you a precise switch-on date, but if it knows enough people are interested, it may move your request further up the queue.

What are the installation and activation timescales for Sky Fibre?

Activation period

You should work on a timeline of around two weeks between placing your order and having everything up and running. Sky will post your Sky Q router directly to you along with an activation date, so all you need to do is follow the instructions and plug everything in when the day comes.

Installation time

This is the time it takes for you to plug your router into your phone line socket and connect your devices, either wirelessly or by using an ethernet cable. If everything is activated correctly this should only take a matter of minutes.

What’s the difference between limited and unlimited?

Unless you specifically request a limited package, all Sky Fibre packages are now unlimited, which makes sense if you want fibre, as you're likely to want faster, unrestricted, speeds to cater for all your requirements, whether that’s for streaming across a number of devices or downloading large files. You do not want that speed to be limited.

Which Sky fibre broadband speed is right for me?

Sky Fibre broadband is available in two speeds, averaging 36Mbps and 63Mbps. So which speed is right for you? It depends on the size of your household and how you use your connection. For most homes, a 36Mbps connection is ideal. It will easily cope with keeping a handful of devices (phones, tablets, laptops etc) connected, and will stream TV without any buffering. The more devices you have and the more people share your home, the faster connection you will need. Here are a few strategies you could adopt:

fibre optic network

Go all out and get Sky Fibre Max

Where money is no object, you just want the speed, you need the speed, and you’re not bothered whether you use all of the speed. If this is you, go for it. Averaging 63Mbps, it will easily cope with whatever you throw at it.

Go for 36Mb and upgrade if you have to

For the more cautious amongst us, this may be the better approach. Go for the lower speed first and see how your household copes, safe in the knowledge you can upgrade if necessary.

Try and figure out exactly what you need

If you want to be a little more scientific, take a look at the internet needs of each member of your household. Do you have a house full of streaming junkies or moderate gamers? Allocate a data budget to each user. We suggest 5-10Mbps for data-intensive users (anyone who does a lot of streaming or downloading), 4-5Mbps for an average user (some streaming, a couple of devices) or 1-3Mbps for any lighter users who are generally just browsing.

From there, add a bit more on at the end – say 10Mbps – and see what figure emerges. This isn’t an exact science but it can be a good guideline to help you decide.

Frequently asked questions

Why are Sky Fibre’s upload speeds so much smaller than its download speeds?

Upload speeds are directly correlated with the work that is expected of them. Our internet activity is far more focused on bringing things (applications, websites, files) into our computers from the web than sending them out – hence the difference between upload and download speeds.

So, in reality, Sky Fibre’s upload speeds (9Mb with 36Mb packages and 18Mb with 63Mb Sky Fibre Max) are more than sufficient for your needs and are amongst some of the fastest in the UK.

Why is my broadband package inclusive of line rental?

You have to pay for the line along which your broadband travels – there is no escaping this. Peviously, providers brushed this larger cost under the carpet and only advertised the 'broadband' price. As this seemed somewhat on the sly side, Ofcom made a ruling that all providers must now state their prices inclusive of line rental rather than just promoting the broadband part of the deal. So this means that on the whole, the price you see advertised is far more likely to be the price you will pay, notwithstanding any extras you choose, such as anytime calls etc.

Does Sky offer broadband-only deals?

No. Broadband and fibre deals without line rental are only available from providers who either run their own fibre network – such as Virgin Media – or from providers that stipulate you must have a landline from someone else. This is fine if it’s what you’re looking for, but there are pitfalls with both these options.

It’s true that Virgin Media offers broadband without a phone line; but when you take a closer look at its deals for broadband-only, somewhat bizarrely they are more expensive than what you’d expect to pay for broadband and phone. So, it’s a bit pointless really.

As for the latter option, why would you want to pay line rental with one provider and broadband with another? It just makes life confusing and you won't save a penny.

Is the Sky Q router any good?

All new Sky broadband customers receive a Sky Q Hub router, which is a state-of-the-art piece of equipment. The Sky Q Hub router offers transfer speeds up to 1Gbps (compared to the 100Mbps from the old Sky Hub router) and lets you connect up to 64 devices at the same time. It uses its own Smart Signal technology to create hotspots around the home, so you can comfortably stay connected regardless of which room you’re in.

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