Is Sky broadband any good?
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:
|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|
|Broadband Unlimited + Talk Weekends||£5
for 12 mths,
for 12 mths,
|Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends||£7.50
for 6 mths,
for 6 mths,
|TV + Broadband Lite + Talk Weekends||£21.50||£36.90||Visit Sky|
|TV + Broadband Unlimited + Talk Weekends||£29||£15.40||£44.40||Visit Sky|
|TV + Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends||£29
for 6 mths,
for 6 mths,
|TV + 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:
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*
|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.
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.
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|
|£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|
|£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.
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