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Sky broadband and fibre review 2018

By Marc Shoffman
Friday, April 6th 2018

Sky is one of the giants of the broadband world with millions of subscribers in the UK. The company is part of Rupert Murdoch's empire and has a solid reputation in the home telecoms industry.

Familiar to many as the provider of satellite TV services, Sky entered the broadband market just a few years ago and has come to dominate it - competing fiercely with the likes of BT and Virgin. It offers the same speeds as most other providers, but what marks it out as different? Here is what to expect with Sky broadband.

Speed

Sky offers three packages all with unlimited usage, so there are no limits on streaming or downloading. The only restriction comes from the speed you choose. Its basic Broadband Unlimited package offers download speeds of up to 17Mbps and comes on a 12-month contract.

Sky’s mid-range Sky Fibre Unlimited deal offers download speeds of up to 38Mbps while the premium Fibre Max offering comes with up to 76Mbps – both the fibre contracts last for 18 months.

The Mbps measure only really makes sense to computer geeks. So in real language, Sky says its Unlimited Broadband will let you download an episode of your favourite TV programme in 3 minutes and 23 seconds or a film in 7 minutes and 14 seconds. It would take 1 minute and 25 seconds to download that TV episode on Fibre Unlimited or 43 seconds on Fibre Max. The movie would be with you in 3 minutes and 3 seconds on Fibre Unlimited and 1 minute and 31 seconds using Fibre Max.

These are pretty standard download speeds, offering a basic 17Mbps, mid-tier 38Mbps and premium 76Mbps. You will get the same offers with most other providers. BT is one exception, offering up to 52Mbps for its mid-tier speed rather than 38Mbps. Virgin Media is the only other exception, offering speeds up to 300Mbps on its own network.

Sky is the first provider to disclose its average speeds alongside its advertised speeds, which gives you a more accurate indication of how fast your internet will be in reality. Broadband Unlimited users get average download speeds of 11Mbps, Fibre customers get 34Mbps, while those on Fibre Max typically receive 57Mbps.

Download speed is just one of the numbers to look out for as it tells you how smoothly you can stream the latest shows and how much waiting you could face.

Check the upload speeds too

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 Broadband Unlimited deal, 9.5Mbps on Unlimited Fibre and 19Mbps on Fibre Max.

In comparison, BT offers 1Mbps on its 17Mbps broadband, 9.5Mbps on its 52Mbps option and 19Mbps on its 76Mbps package, while Virgin Media provides just 3Mbps on its 50Mbps. If you want to get close to 20Mbps upload speed you would have to sign up to Virgin's most expensive 300Mbps download package.

Installation

Once you have ordered your broadband package, 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 the whole process can be tracked 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 your place your router in an open ventilated space and near your master phone socket to get the best speed. This will most likely be the socket that has an Openreach logo on it or a line 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. All new customers now receive the Sky Q Hub, whatever package they are on.

You need to plug it in and give it at least two minute to start up until its light stop blinking and you see three green lights at the front. Your hub may also need to download software in the first 20 minutes or so when it is starting up which could slow down your connection.

Equipment

Sky used to provide its basic broadband customers with the Sky Hub and Fibre users got the more pristine Sky Q Hub. Now everyone gets the same premium router when signing up as a new customer.

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 has just two.

Reliability

Sky regularly ranks well in Ofcom ratings for customer satisfaction with a broadband service. It scored 88% in 2017, just behind Virgin Media at 90%.

Unlike others, Sky provides its average download speeds so you get a better idea of how reliable the service is even before you buy it. This can be a real bugbear when you purchase broadband and find the speed wasn’t as expected so this tool is helpful from Sky.

Sky will also refund your service charges if you are unhappy with your broadband in the first 30 days. If you do stick with the service once activated, Sky customers also get access to wi-fi hostpots in public areas such as restaurants and cafes.

Customer service

Sky also does well for for 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 or Plusnet, Sky’s Switch Squad will manage the whole move for you. Just tell them who your older 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 netwerk, you will have to make the cancellation call yourself.

Conclusion

If you want a supplier with a track record for good customer service and reliable broadband then Sky has a big tick. It offers a good range of broadband speeds for all types of households, plus you can actually see the average speed on each package.

Sky will even help manage the whole switch for you and set you up with some great kit. All-in all a great provider no matter which service you provide.

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