Sky broadband review: is it any good?
THINK Sky and the immediate association for most of us is satellite TV, but they've also been offering broadband for a number of years.
Sky offer an array of broadband packages from very light use services to superfast up to 76Mb fibre deals. They were also one of the first providers to offer "truly" unlimited broadband - that is unrestricted downloads with no traffic management or speed throttling for heavier users.
Available as both a standalone service as well as bundled with Sky TV; Sky broadband isn't just a bolted on service for their satellite customers and compares well against dedicated broadband providers.
We take a closer look at what's on offer in this full review of Sky broadband.
Here's the latest deal Sky are offering on their most popular package: unlimited standard broadband:
Sky Broadband Latest Offers
And here are the rest of Sky's special offers on fibre broadband and TV:
Is Sky available in your area?
Before we get into the different packages available, it's worth knowing whether or not Sky broadband - and Sky fibre - is available in your area.
Run a quick postcode check in the box below to find out whether Sky is available to you without leaving this page:
Enter your postcode above to check availability in your area.
How much does it cost?
Sky have five broadband options: 12GB, Unlimited, Fibre, Fibre Unlimited, and Fibre Max.
The standard "up to 17Mb" packages come with 12-month contracts; while the fibre deals require a commitment of at least 18 months. All of them also rely on taking Sky home phone - but the cost of this is included in the monthly prices below.
All of the broadband deals are available as standalone packages - that is you don't need to also be a Sky TV customer - except for the cheapest 12GB deal which can only be ordered alongside or added to Sky TV.
Sky broadband packages
Compare more package options and check availability for Sky broadband here.
Readers who think they remember a completely free broadband package for Sky TV customers would be right: Sky Broadband 12GB replaced the old Lite package, which was Sky's truly "free broadband" deal, in summer 2016.
Lite came with the UK's smallest monthly download limit for home broadband - just 2GB per month - making it suitable only for those who did the odd bit of browsing and emailing.
By comparison, the new 12GB package offers a slightly more realistic data cap for £5 a month.
Broadband Unlimited is by far the most popular option, although more and more homes are taking fibre.
Anyone for whom up to 38Mb isn't fast enough - which could include larger families sharing a connection - may want to consider Fibre Max, which is Sky's up to 76Mb service.
Adding home phone calls
As we've noted above, Sky broadband is only available to customers who are also willing to switch their home phone to Sky, a rule that almost all broadband providers have now.
Sky's line rental costs £18.99 a month, roughly the same as what BT and Virgin Media charge - but unlike BT and Virgin Media, Sky don't offer a pay upfront option. Paying in a lump sum can knock at least 10% off the cost of paying month by month over the year, so it's often worth considering.
What's more, Sky also don't include any calls with their line rental, so anyone wanting a call package will need to pay extra - although at the time of writing these bolt-ons are currently on offer. The provider's call plans break down as follows:
|Pay As You Talk||Talk Evenings And Weekends Extra||Talk Anytime Extra||Talk International Extra|
|Free||£4 extra per month
Current offer: free
|£8 extra per month
Current offer: £4 per month
|£12 extra per month
Current offer: £8 per month
|No inclusive calls||Inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK mobiles and UK landlines, including 0845 and 0870 numbers||Inclusive anytime calls to UK mobiles and UK landlines, including 0845 and 0870 numbers; 2p per minute call rates to 22 international destinations||Inclusive anytime calls to UK mobiles and UK landlines, including 0845 and 0870 numbers; landlines in 50 countries, and mobiles in Canada, Hong Kong and the US|
Whichever call package is chosen, Sky include calls to UK mobiles in their bundles. As with most other home phone providers, the length of inclusive calls with Sky is 60 minutes - at which point customers should hang up and dial again.
The connection fee for calls to UK landlines is 19p, which is then charged at 12.54p per minute.
Calls to mobiles will cost 19.35p per minutes during daytime hours, and 14.25p per minute at evenings and weekends. The access charge for calls to 08 numbers, 09, and 118 numbers is 11.5p per minute, but calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers are free of charge.
If there's a working BT-compatible phone line to the premises, switching from an existing supplier to Sky should be free. If there is a line, but it's not BT-compatible, or if an entirely new line is required, there's a connection fee of £20. Find out more about getting a new line installed here.
Adding Sky TV
on Sky TV?
For those who want to take Sky Broadband with Sky TV, the first thing to note is that all Sky's TV bundles now come with 18 month minimum terms - although customers should have separate contracts for each service.
Bearing that in mind, plus the fact that the Original Bundle usually costs £22 a month with a £20 setup fee, here are the total monthly prices for Sky Broadband with and without the basic Sky TV service:
Compare more package options and check availability for Sky here.
Note the column for upfront costs.
There's usually a £9.95 delivery charge for the Sky Broadband hub; occasionally Sky offer it free of charge.
Those taking Unlimited broadband will also have to pay a £10 activation fee, and it costs £50 for anyone taking fibre broadband. Although customers who take Sky TV at the same time may often benefit from reduced setup fees.
Existing Sky TV customers
We're aware that some people reading this article will be Sky TV customers wondering whether to add broadband to their existing deal.
Not wanting to leave anyone out when it comes to a special offer or two, Sky often run deals for existing customers who are thinking of upgrading.
At the time of writing, these are the current offers available to existing Sky TV customers who add broadband to their package:
How good is Sky broadband?
Packages and prices aside for a moment, let's take a look at whether Sky broadband is actually worth signing up for and what customers get for their money.
How fast is it?
Speeds dictate Sky broadband prices to a large degree and according to Ofcom's latest speed tests carried out in November 2016 the provider is delivering on average:
|Advertised Speed||Average over 24 hours||Average at peak times
|Up to 17Mb||9.1Mb to 10.8Mb||9.0Mb to 10.6Mb|
|Up to 17Mb||10.1Mb to 11.5Mb||9.9Mb to 11.4Mb|
|Up to 38Mb||31Mb to 33.5Mb||30.1Mb to 32.7Mb|
|Up to 38Mb||33Mb - 34.6Mb||32.8Mb - 34.3Mb|
|Up to 76Mb||54.3Mb - 59.9Mb||53.6Mb - 59.1Mb|
|Up to 76Mb||57.9Mb to 60.7Mb||57.0Mb to 59.8Mb|
Figures are averages over 24 hours, as reported by Ofcom in November 2016.
As you can see, the average speeds users actually experience are different from those headline numbers. Although don't be alarmed because that's the case with most broadband providers due in part to how the technology works.
Sky now actually advertise their services alongside an average UK download speed, which goes some way to highlight how much better fibre performs:
|Advertised Speed||Average UK download speed|
|Up to 17Mb||9Mb|
|Up to 38Mb||34Mb|
|Up to 76Mb||60Mb|
Sky standard and fibre broadband both run on the BT network, although there are some differences between the providers who resell it. It's a bit technical, but if you want to know more we cover more BT's wholesale network here.
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 caps.
They were the first broadband provider to bring in this "truly unlimited" policy, though BT began offering a similarly unrestricted service in February 2013; TalkTalk's service is similarly unrestricted.
Read our network management article for more on how this actually affects broadband; most Sky unlimited users just seem to enjoy the peace of mind.
Would 12GB be enough?
As we said above, Sky Broadband 12GB is an improvement on the old 2GB usage cap that came with Lite, but it's still only suitable for households that don't do a huge amount of browsing, and certainly not the right choice for anyone who likes streaming audio or video.
Watching the odd bit of iPlayer should be okay, but more regular streamers - including those who use any of Sky's on demand TV services - could well find themselves going over that limit.
Anyone who wants more guidance about whether they're likely to go over Sky's data limits - from 12GB to the 25GB allowance that comes with their entry level fibre - should read this guide.
Extras: free router, wi-fi and parental controls
Sky now offer two different wireless routers. Customers getting Sky Broadband on its own will be offered their standard router, pictured here on the left.
Those getting their broadband with Sky TV, or ordering Sky Fibre Max, will get the newer Sky Q hub, pictured to the right. As well as looking a little sleeker, it works with other Sky Q devices to provide a better wi-fi signal all over the house.
For more information read our review of how Sky's routers perform against the competition here.
Customers taking anything other than Sky Broadband 12GB 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 the rest of the big four broadband providers, Sky also offer all their broadband customers router level parental controls, which we've reviewed in full here.
Since July 2016, all new customers will have found these controls switched on automatically for them. Their browsing will be restricted to sites suitable for those aged 13 and under until 9pm at night when the filters are lifted.
Anyone wanting to change these settings can do so by logging in to their account - which they'll be prompted to do if they try to access a filtered site.
Support check: how's Sky customer service?
In years past Sky's customer service wasn't always held in high esteem. Yet this has improved drastically in recent years.
That said, Sky were investigated in 2015 for customer service issues relating to their retention practises - or, as many frustrated customers would rather it was called, their refusal to let them leave.
Sky now find themselves fighting it out with Virgin for first and second place in Ofcom's ratings. Despite having bagged the top spot last year, Sky have now slipped behind Virgin, scoring 91% and 88% respectively for their broadband services.
However, Sky are still rated higher than Virgin for their landline services, with an overall rating of 90% compared to Virgin's 85%.
Ofcom aren't the only ones to rate them highly: Sky do well in independent surveys as well - as our guide to the best broadband customer service reveals.
In a PC Pro survey, for example, Sky got a 62% customer service rating - not the highest, but out of the biggest ISPs only Virgin and Plusnet beat them.
Sky offer 24/7 technical support (numbers here). Calls to their customer service numbers are free of charge when calling from a Sky landline; if it's the phone line that's the problem, Sky use an 03 number, so it should be included in most mobile call plans.
Summing up Sky broadband
All in all, Sky Broadband delivers much more than a basic add-on to their satellite TV: in fact, completely unlimited downloads and their improving technical support have made Sky's offerings some of the best liked and best value internet services around.
In fact, they impressed us so much we awarded them Best Overall in our 2016 ISP Awards.
Compare all of Sky's broadband packages here where you can also check availability in your area and see the latest special offers.