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Sky student broadband review

Tuesday, November 17th 2015

Sky has re-packaged its popular Sky Broadband Unlimited plan on a shorter nine-month contract to fit the academic year. It’s a standard speed internet service, with an inclusive router and free public wi-fi.

It’s hard to beat on value since the broadband plan is only £15 per month (inclusive of line rental). It’s a limited time deal available from early summer to autumn each year.

Cable.co.uk overall rating

Sky clearly knows how to tempt students with the offer of free unlimited broadband, with standard speed on a nine-month contract. It is undoubtedly a good value deal, yet there are no landline calls included and no option to upgrade to a faster fibre optic student broadband service.

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Speed & usage



Sky student broadband is a standard plan (otherwise known as ADSL) with an optimum speed of 17Mb. As with most broadband services, the actual speed you get depends on many factors, such as how far your house is from the nearest exchange and how many people are sharing the internet connection at any one time. In Ofcom speed tests, the service averaged download speeds between 7.5Mb and 9.6Mb over 24 hours. Therefore, the plan is adequate for small student households, but larger house-shares might find it too slow. For example, buffering might occur while you’re watching Netflix if someone else in the house is downloading a large file or talking on Skype. However, if you suspect it might be too slow, Sky doesn’t offer faster fibre optic broadband on a short nine-month contract, so you’ll need to commit to a 12-month plan or look at student fibre broadband deals elsewhere.

Although speed might limit what you can do, the usage allowance won’t since it is a truly unlimited service with no caps to control how much you download or upload each month.

Advertised download speed Up to 17Mbps
Average downloads (off-peak) 8.8Mbps – 11.4Mbps
Average downloads (peak) 8.7Mbps – 10.6Mbps
Advertised upload speed Up to 1.3Mbps
Monthly usage limit No
Traffic management No
Static IP No
Minimum contract 9 months
Router Sky Hub
Public wi-fi 20,000+ hotspots via The Cloud
Prices from £0 per month

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What you can do with it



The ‘Actual’ speeds are those reported by Ofcom.

Call plan



The plan comes with a standard broadband connection but no inclusive calls. Instead, you’ll just pay for each call you make at 9.5p per minute to UK landlines and 12.7p per minute to UK mobiles, plus a 15.9p connection fee per call. Of course, you can choose not to use it to avoid paying extra and won’t be charged for receiving incoming calls from mum and dad.

Alternatively, you can pay extra to get one of the three Sky Talk call plans. The options include Evening and Weekends Extra (+£4), Anytime Extra (+£8) and International Extra (+£12). The plans feature inclusive landline and mobile calls for up to an hour, after which you’ll need to hang up and redial to avoid being charged.




Unlimited public wi-fi is a very useful feature of this student broadband package. Download the free Sky Wi-Fi app to your smartphone or tablet, and you’ll be able to get online for free in over 20,000 hotspots throughout the country. The wi-fi network is run by The Cloud and operates in many cafes, bars, restaurants, train stations, service stations, shopping centres and hotels.

Next up, you get a free Sky Yahoo email address and Sky Broadband Shield. The latter is a little odd, since it is parental control software, which won’t be much use to the average 18 to 21-year-old student. More useful would have been the free subscription to McAfee Security included with the regular Sky Broadband Unlimited, but it doesn’t feature in the student plan so you’ll need to pay extra to protect your computer from online threats and viruses.

You can’t turn your nose up at cheap broadband. It’s as simple as that. Although it’s not the fastest service around and doesn’t include a call plan, it is by far the cheapest student plan on the market and ideal for those living on a particularly tight budget. However, be aware that you will need to cancel the plan at the end of the eighth month (giving 30 days’ notice) to avoid it rolling over into a standard plan at £20 per month.

Free public wi-fi helps to save money getting online while out and about, and the absence of inclusive calls isn’t a major issue since most students rely on their mobile anyway. Sky also has a good customer service reputation, which further boosts the value of the service. It scored 80% customer satisfaction in the latest Ofcom survey, compared to the national average of 67%.

Sky student broadband is supplied with the Sky Hub router free of charge (subject to £9.95 delivery), which Sky claims is simple and secure to set up. Features include a power-saving mode, simple WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) for easily connecting devices around the home, and compatibility to the Sky+HD box for those with Sky TV. It does the job for this level broadband plan, but there are some notable drawbacks. The main issue is that the Sky Hub is a single band 802.11n 2.4GHz router while virtually all competitor models have upgraded onto faster dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n routers. The lack of USB ports is a notable omission, meaning you can’t connect a wired print or external storage device.

Installation is free and usually takes place within two weeks from the date you sign up.

Sky Router

Overall Rating


Anything free is a bonus when you’re a cash-strapped student, particularly when it’s an essential service like broadband. With unlimited usage, a reasonable average speed and unlimited public wi-fi, the service is great value. However, it won’t be suitable for all households, particularly large house-shares and those who spend a lot of time online. If this is you, you’re likely to find the service too slow and should investigate a student fibre broadband plan instead.

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