Sky Broadband review: Reliable and fast, but be wary of hidden charges

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Sky is one of the UK’s biggest ISPs: with more than six million broadband subscribers, it’s second only to BT in size. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that you can get Sky Broadband bundled with Sky’s TV services. If you’re already subscribing to Sky Entertainment, it’s your easiest and most cost-effective choice.

Sky Broadband review: Reliable and fast, but be wary of hidden charges

There’s no need to be a TV customer to get Sky Broadband, though. The company offers a standalone ADSL service rated at 11Mbits/sec, plus a pair of fibre services promising average download speeds of 38Mbits/sec and 63Mbits/sec. These operate over the BT Openreach network, which serves more than 16 million homes, so there’s a good chance Sky fibre is available in your area. You can use the availability checker on Sky’s website to find out for sure.

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Sky Broadband review: The packages

Sky’s basic 11Mbits/sec broadband package costs £18 per month on an 18-month contract, making it one of the cheapest ADSL services around. It’s a pound cheaper than Plusnet, and while you do have to pay a £10 setup fee, that gets you the fast and compact Sky Q Hub router. Beware, though: after your contract runs out, the price abruptly shoots up to £31 a month, which is terrible value for an ADSL connection. You can avoid that by cancelling promptly, of course, but it’s a nasty trap for less attentive customers.

Sky Broadband UnlimitedSky Fibre UnlimitedSky Fibre Max
Price per month, including line rental£18 (for 18mths, then £30)£27 (for 18mths, then £38.99)£27 (for 18mths, then £43.99)
Setup fee£29.95£29.95£29.95
Advertised speed11Mbits/sec40Mbits/sec63Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months

The fibre packages come with the same sting in the tail. Sky’s Fibre Unlimited service gives you a 38Mbits/sec line for £27 per month on an 18-month contract, and again, the setup fee is a reasonable £10. However, a year and a half down the line, your monthly rate rockets to £41 a month.

Even during your contract, it’s hardly an irresistible deal. EE’s 36Mbits/sec service costs the same as Sky’s on a monthly basis, but EE also throws in 10GB of free mobile data each month – and there’s no sneaky price hike at the end of your contract.

At any rate, there’s not much reason to choose Sky’s 38Mbits/sec service, because at the time of writing its 63Mbits/sec Fibre Max package costs exactly the same, with the same £10 connection fee. After the initial 18 months, however, the price ramps up to a shocking £46 a month. For that money you could switch to Virgin Media’s Vivid 350 service, which is more than five times as fast, and still have four pounds a month left to spend on sweeties.

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While we’re on the subject, it’s also worth reiterating that the 63Mbits/sec Fibre Max service is the fastest connection Sky has to offer. That’s not likely to be a problem for most people as it delivers more than enough bandwidth to watch two 4K movies at once. However, for real high-end performance you’ll need to look elsewhere, to EE’s services or Virgin’s fibre-to-the-premises deals.

Finally, you should also note that all of these deals involve switching to Sky’s phone service. If you don’t add on a call plan then UK calls are charged at a rather rough 15p a minute, but you can pay £4 a month for free evening and weekend calls, £8 for the all-inclusive Anytime tariff, or £12 for unlimited international calls to 72 countries.

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Sky Broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction

Sky’s ADSL service promises download speeds of 11Mbits/sec – and that’s just what it delivers. In fact, Ofcom’s latest broadband performance survey (carried out in November 2017) found that customers got slightly higher download speeds than advertised, averaging 11.8Mbits/sec over a 24-hour period. That’s not quite the best around – BT, EE and Plusnet all topped 12Mbits/sec in the same study – but in real-world use you won’t notice a difference.

Sky’s fibre speeds are solid, too. At the time the survey was carried out, Sky’s basic fibre service was advertised at 36Mbits/sec, and Ofcom found that it got very near to that indeed, with an average of 34.8Mbits/sec. Things were even better on the 63Mbits/sec service, achieving average download speeds of 62.4Mbits/sec. This wasn’t quite the best result in its class – it was pipped by EE, with 64.9Mbits/sec – but overall we really can’t quibble with Sky’s performance.

Indeed, Ofcom also noted a high degree of customer satisfaction among Sky subscribers. The latest figures, published in May 2018, show that an impressive 83% of customers declared themselves satisfied with their service, which was second only to Plusnet. Sky customers were also less likely to complain than those of any other broadband provider, attracting just 29 complaints per 100,000 subscribers during 2017.

Even those who did complain mostly had happy outcomes, with 57% saying they were satisfied with the way their complaint was handled – a score that was beaten only by Plusnet’s 59%.

Sky Broadband review: Verdict

Sky Broadband provides a good, reliable service, and its ADSL and 63Mbits/sec services are good value for the first year and a half. The problem is the extra charges that kick in after that: they’re a rip-off on their own terms, and they certainly don’t make us feel like valued customers.

Still, if you’re happy to partner your internet with Sky’s TV services then it makes sense to give it a whirl – and, like most ISPs, Sky also runs special offers from time to time, which might sweeten the deal. Just set a reminder to switch or renew in 17 months’ time so you don’t get caught out by ballooning broadband charges.

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