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.
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 averaging 11Mbps and comes on a 12-month contract.
Sky’s mid-range Sky Fibre Unlimited deal offers download speeds averaging 36Mbps while the premium Fibre Max offering averages 63Mbps – 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; you will get the same offers with most other providers. BT is one exception, offering an average of 50Mbps for its mid-tier speed rather than 36Mbps. Virgin Media is the only other exception, offering speeds up to 362Mbps on its own network.
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.
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 with its standard broadband, 9.5Mbps on its Superfast Fibre 1 (previously BT Infinity 1) and 19Mbps on its Superfast Fibre 2 (previously Infinity 2), while Virgin Media provides just 3Mbps with its 50Mbps. If you want to get close to 20Mbps upload speed, you have to sign up to Virgin's most expensive VIVID 350 package.
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 you 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 minutes to start up until its lights 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 temporarily.
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.
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%.
Sky displays its average download speeds so you can get a better idea of how reliable the service is even before you buy it. When you purchase broadband and find the speed wasn’t as expected it can be very frustrating, so this gets Sky a pat on the back for honesty.
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.
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 network, you will have to make the cancellation call yourself.
If you want a supplier 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.
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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