Is Sky broadband any good?

sky broadband

Think Sky and you probably think satellite TV deals.

Does that make Sky broadband just an add-on for their sofa-captive pay TV customers? Is Sky broadband any good?

We'll aim to find out - focusing on connection quality and value for money - in this full review.

Sky broadband in brief

Sky have four broadband options: Lite, Unlimited, Fibre and Connect.

2GB usage/month 40GB usage/month Unlimited usage
Lite: up to 16Mb
(only with TV)
Connect: up to 6Mb
(out of area)
Unlimited: up to 16Mb
Fibre: up to 38Mb
Fibre Pro: up to 76Mb

Broadband unlimited is by far the most popular option and more and more homes are taking fibre; Lite is Sky's 'free broadband' package but it comes with the UK's smallest monthly download limit for home broadband so it's only suitable for those that just browse and email.

Now that we've got the basics let's take a closer look: we'll start off with prices then take a look at speeds and usage limits (skip ahead) as well as extras like the free router and wi-fi (skip ahead).

Crunching the numbers: prices

Sky are generally very competitive on price, especially compared to their main rivals, BT and Virgin Media.

Here are the current Sky broadband special offers:

Choice of £100 M&S or Tesco voucher, or Prepaid MasterCard with Sky TV
ends 30 Apr 2014
Sign up to Sky TV online for this offer here
12 months half price Unlimited broadband + £25 M&S voucher Sign up to Sky unlimited broadband without Sky TV (or as an existing Sky TV customer) for this offer here
6 months Fibre Unlimited just £7.50 + £25 M&S voucher Sign up to Sky Fibre broadband without Sky TV (or as an existing Sky TV customer) for this offer here

And here are the prices for some of the most popular packages, including Sky line rental, which all Sky broadband customers have to take:

Package Price Line Rental Total cost
sky Broadband Unlimited + Talk Weekends £5
for 12 mths,
then £10
£15.40 £20.40
for 12 mths,
then £25.40
Visit Sky
sky Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends £7.50
for 6 mths,
then £20
£15.40 £22.90
for 6 mths,
then £35.40
Visit Sky
sky TV Original + Broadband Lite + Talk Weekends £21.50 £36.90 Visit Sky
sky TV Original + Broadband Unlimited + Talk Weekends £29 £15.40 £44.40 Visit Sky
sky TV Original + Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends £29
for 6 mths,
then £41.50
£15.40 £44.40
for 6 mths,
then £56.90
Visit Sky
sky TV Original + Broadband Connect + Talk Weekends £38.50 £15.40 £53.90 Visit Sky

Compare more package options and check availability here.

All Sky contracts are 12 months long.

There's no charge for set up or installation, except for those that need a totally new phone line installed, which costs £39. Most people won't need to pay this though, find out more here.

Availability not all of the packages above will be available to all households, especially the Sky fibre broadband deals.

Check availability by postcode and home phone number here:

Phone number:
Postcode:
Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.

Cheapest broadband? There's no question that Sky aren't offering the UK's cheapest standalone broadband and line rental (see who is here), particularly since broadband Lite is only available for new and existing Sky TV customers.

However, they are very competitive and may well be the cheapest option for those that want Sky TV.

Adding in calls As we've noted above, Sky broadband is only available to customers who are also willing to switch their home phone line to Sky's line rental, a rule that almost all broadband providers have now.

As we update this article in April 2014, Sky line rental is just a few pennies under £16 which, unfortunately, is about the same as all the other big providers.

It's worth noting, however, that, unlike BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, Sky no longer offer a pay upfront option for line rental. Paying in a lump sum knocks £50 to £60 a year off the bill so it is worth taking into account.

Sky call plans break down as follows:

Talk Weekends Talk Anytime UK Talk Anytime International
Free with line rental £5 extra a month £10 extra a month
Inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines Inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines Inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines, landlines in 50 more countries and mobiles in Canada, Hong Kong and the US

As with other home phone providers, inclusive calls can last up to 50 minutes. Call rates outside of inclusive hours are fairly standard: 8.41p a minute to UK landlines; 12.77p a minute to mobiles in the day and 7.66p a minute to mobiles in the evenings (from 7pm).

Up to speed?

Speeds dictate Sky broadband prices to a large degree, as follows:

Up to 16Mb
Ofcom average 7 - 8.8Mb*
Up to 38Mb
Ofcom average 30.9 - 34.4Mb*
Up to 78Mb
Ofcom average 60.4 - 63.9Mb*
Lite: £0
Unlimited: £7.50
Fibre: £20 Fibre Pro: £30

* Average over 24 hours from 2013 Ofcom data.

As you can see, fibre really does result in faster speeds, on average and, as always, the average users will get considerably slower speeds than the up to 16Mb Sky have advertised from August 2013.

Sky ADSL and fibre broadband run on the BT network, although there are some differences between the providers. Read more on the differences between the providers here.

We haven't included the Connect package, which is the only option available for non-LLU (read: rural) areas, above.

Connect is likely to be substantially slower than Sky's other broadband options and it's also much more expensive because it costs more for Sky to pay BT to use these exchanges and because people in these areas are likely to have very few other options.

Usage limits

Unusually for a big provider, Sky don't impose any form of restriction on downloads on their unlimited deals: no fair use policy, no traffic management and definitely no download cap.

Sky were the first to bring in this 'truly unlimited' policy, though as of Feb 2013 BT also offer it and so do TalkTalk.

Read our network management article for more on how this actually affects broadband; most Sky unlimited users seem to just enjoy the peace of mind.

Get by on 2GB: as we said above, Sky broadband Lite's 2GB a month limit is only suitable for households that will only use their internet for browsing web pages and reading emails.

Watching iPlayer, downloading large files or even listening to the radio online often is highly likely to result in going over the limit.

Need more guidance about whether you're likely to be able to stay in the limits? Read our guide to what usage limits really mean.

Extras: free router, wi-fi and parental controls

All Sky broadband packages include a decent wireless router, which Sky claims has much better wireless reach than other ISPs' free routers.

sky hub

Read our review of the router over here.

Customers taking Unlimited, Connect or Sky fibre broadband also get free access to wi-fi hotspots from The Cloud.

There are thousands of hotspots across the UK, some in branches of big chains including Pret, Caffe Nero and Eat.

Like all the big five broadband providers, Sky now offer all their broadband customers good, router level parental controls which we've reviewed in full here.

Support check: how's Sky customer service?

In years past Sky broadband's customer service hasn't always been held in high esteem.

More recently, however, the provider has really outdone itself: as of November 2013 they have the least complaints per 1,000 customers of any large broadband provider and independent surveys have rated them highly.

In a Think Broadband survey, for example, 23% of Sky customers gave them five out of five for service, the top score of the big providers.

However, although Sky do offer 24/7 technical support (numbers here), they're currently using a 0844 number. It's free for Sky Talk customers but currently 5.1p/min, plus 15p connection, from a BT line and potentially much more from a mobile.

Existing Sky customers: Sky TV and O2/Be broadband migrants

We're aware that some people reading this article will be Sky TV customers wondering whether to add broadband to their existing deal.

We hope this article as a whole has been useful for you but it's also worth noting that Sky often have special offers for their customers who upgrade. Currently those are as follows:

Offer You get Additional price
sky £25 M&S voucher and 12 months half price Broadband Unlimited £3.75 a month for 12 months, then £7.50 a month Visit Sky
sky £25 M&S voucher and £7.50 for 6 months Broadband Fibre Unlimited £7.50 a month for 6 months, then £20 a month Visit Sky

Some of you may also be reading because you're former O2 or Be broadband customers, moving on to the Sky network.

Although some O2 and, particularly, Be customers were unhappy about moving to Sky the difference shouldn't be that great at this point, especially since Sky are going out of their way to bring in like for like deals, like Unlimited Pro with a static IP and dedicated support, from January 2014.

As we've seen, however, Sky are very focused on their pay TV business and TV customers probably get the best value for money so it might be worthwhile for standalone customers to look elsewhere, particularly for cheaper deals.

Summing up Sky

All in all, Sky are delivering much more than a basic add-on to their satellite TV: in fact, completely unlimited downloads and ever improving technical support has made Sky one of the best liked and best value broadband deals around.

On the other hand, broadband Lite and Connect continue to fit the add-on description pretty well. Aside from Broadband Lite's price, they can be easily beaten elsewhere.

Comments

1
11 April 2013
Drewmcadam

Yes - the real problem with Sky is the constant and regular disconnects. They have a serious problem there, and have done nothing to sort it out. If you play games online, you can forget about using Sky. Simple as that.

2
6 April 2013
Victor

This is more of a question. Why can't I get a line rental saver with Sky if I apply online? They insist I need to order the line rental over the phone to be eligible for the line rental saver. I can get some cash back (quidco or top cash back) if applying for Sky talk and broadband. I can get line rental saver if I buy Plusnet or TalkTalk online.

3
25 March 2013
dave

Yet 2 years on, it has problems with the constant disconnects, that a lot of people all over the country are having currently from around December 2012 - present March 2013, and it is ridiculous with the amount of times these disconnects occur. It differs from day to day, sometimes it's 2 or 3, sometimes it's 10 - 20. It can happen at any peak or off peak times. Everything that a Sky forum mod/op says on their forum is the same old rubbish, have you reset the box, are you sure it's not getting interference? What when it's plugged in through hardwire from the router to my computer? No its the same thing that happens, the router turns off, flashes an amber light which then goes green and then your internet comes back on. Now they say the line is ok, and there is no problems with the line? Then what is it? I'd say it's your router fix it, and stop telling people because you can't be bothered fixing it, everyone's fed up, including me with ringing over the same issue that's affecting the whole country. Best fix I can think of is move ISP, which should be free of charge due to the poor service and lack of fix after 3 - 4 months.

4
20 January 2012
david poole

This is for mark p,

If you have Sky TV with a phone line, unplug your Sky adapter/line from the BT socket and put your phone line which is connected to your router in and watch your Internet speed shoot up.

I have BT internet but changed my Sky box to Sky+ and my internet speed went down to 1mb-2mb. I took my Sky line and put my phone line directly into the phone socket and my speed shot up to 8.86-9.25mb even after being told my exchange is only 5.5km away - the Sky box slows your speed down!

5
5 January 2012
D@/\/

I have had Sky broadband for almost a year now. I got it because I wanted Sky+ HD and it was a lot cheaper if you get the full package with phone line as well. Also you get multi room. But I absolutely regret this. The connection of the router always remains existent but it frequently cannot pickup Internet signal as it's not fibre optic. This is extremely annoying because it happens at least once every couple of hours which means that if I start any long download then it will always phase out when the router fails to pickup signal or the internet signal received by the router gets very low: even if this is just for a second. Even when there is signal it gives a very slow Internet speed.

6
28 September 2011
mark p

I have been with Sky for 6 months now and the best download is 2.2Mb downstream and 0.3Mb up. I live 2km away from the exchange and cannot have fibre optic as it's not set up in my area.

I have checked the filter, wires to the telephone etc, are all ok and had an engineer set it when I started with Sky. Sky have said there's nothing they can do until the exchange upgrades which could be years!

I contacted Virgin and they did a test on my line and so did I via their tester and they said iI could get 10Mb - 17.5Mb. Is this a con to get my business? They said it wasn't because of Ofcom.

7
12 September 2011
Gary

Hi, just hoping for some advice if possible. I am currently with Sky for everything including my broadband and I have been with them for nearly two years and am no longer tied in to a contract. My broadband is truly shocking - I had problems since day one and last night was the last straw - 5 mins to upload a Sky page! I have checked on my connection speeds and barely touching 1Mb when I am supposed to receive 20Mb.

I am connected on the Connect package which I know doesn't hold the best speeds but was hoping for a lot better than this. The master socket is in the kitchen which can not be used as my living room is on the 2nd floor (3 story house) so I use the socket in my living room for my hub. Any suggestions as to how I improve my speed or do I transfer to another supplier? Thanks.

8
6 September 2011
steve

I've been using Sky broadband for a while now and to be honest, the quality of the service I get is truly awful. I live 1 1/2 miles from the exchange and the "up to 20mb" speed I get is actually 1.4 to 1.6mb, which in this age of ultra fast technology is shocking. I've asked them to sort it out for me but they say they're unable to help. Yes,the fee is cheap at £7.50, but in reality it's not even worth that.

I would strongly advise anyone to avoid Sky broadband at all costs, regardless of the price.

9
22 August 2011
Chris

Sky recently sent me an email saying they will "automatically move you up to Sky Broadband Unlimited" if I go over my monthly usage twice (currently on Lite). Can they do this with out my permission? I'm happy on my current broadband package & stated they can throttle my internet if I go over.

22 August 2011
Choose team

Hi Chris, There's usually a section of your broadband terms and conditions that states that Sky are within their rights to do this. Checking the small print should be your first move with this.

10
24 July 2011
Tee

If it costs more for existing Sky customers and am out of contract why can't I just cancel my contract, wait a day or two and take up a new contract in order to benefit from the prices for new customers?

24 July 2011
Choose team

This is something we've often wondered ourselves so we checked with Sky for the definitive answer.

This is what they said: "If a customer cancels their Sky subscription, they are not eligible for a new Sky offer for 12 months. In that 12 month period they would still be classed as an existing customer."

Hope that helps!

11
28 June 2011
Harjit

Do you qualify as a new customer if you already have Freesat?

28 June 2011
Choose team

As long as you don't have any Sky products we believe you qualify. You'll need a new dish but note that you can keep Freesat and have that and Sky connected to the same dish. That's particularly handy if you want TV in a few rooms: you could have freesat in one and Sky in another.

12
21 June 2011
Tim

I have Sky TV. When I go to sign up for broadband they are charging a £60 set up fee. In the above you say it is free?

21 June 2011
Choose team

The prices above are for non-Sky customers signing up online. Sky have another set of prices for their existing TV customers.

13
3 June 2011
Matt

What can I say about Sky. Well, we had BT internet at one point but as I am a gamer I needed a pretty fast connection and BT couldn't offer that, so we decided to swap over to Sky (since we already had a Sky+ HD box).

I must say that the Sky connection is a lot faster for browsing, gaming and downloading than any other provider.

14
15 May 2011
Regina

After some terrible experience during a move to a new home with BT, I decided to swap to Sky. I have been a TV customer with them for many years and was hoping to get a fair deal on broadband. However, they didn't stick to any of their promises and after 2 months the Internet is still not working properly.

I live only a few miles out of Edinburgh and would have expected a fairly stable internet connection here. I haven't managed to discuss this with anyone from Sky on their so called 24/7 phoneline and they haven't responded to any e-mails I've sent. I might just cancel my direct debit as I'm not willing to pay any longer for this poor service.

I don't know if there is any real alternative as most of the Internet providers do not realise that we've reached the 21st century and people need a reliable and fast Internet connection for private and business purposes. Until the big companies get these issues sorted I would rather use mobile Internet on a Pay-as-you-go basis.

15
7 May 2011
John

You say the following about Sky Broadband, "It's also worth looking at what you'll actually be getting before you jump in: this is a very basic broadband deal for browsing, emailing and not much else". What else is there to get with broadband, am I missing something here?

John

7 May 2011
Choose team

Yeah sorry John I can see how that could be confusing! So we mean browsing low-bandwidth websites and emails as opposed to streaming video on sites like Youtube and iPlayer or via your TV, listening to music online on sites like Spotify, playing games online, downloading large files etc. Hope this helps.

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