Sky Broadband (2020) review: A decent ISP, but keep an eye on your bills

As the most prominent supplier of premium TV in the UK, Sky doesn’t need much introduction. It’s also one of the biggest broadband ISPs, with offerings to rival BT, Virgin Media and the rest.

Sky didn’t win any awards in the Expert Reviews Best Broadband Awards 2020 survey but it did come highly commended for reliability and speed. 77% of its customers would recommend it to a friend, which helped Sky place a close third for our Overall Best Broadband Provider award. While it doesn’t have the cheapest or fastest plans, it still seems to be doing the right thing by its customers.

The firm’s best-value broadband offerings are the ones that include a TV package but there are also a few broadband-only deals to choose from. The basic ADSL service promises an average of 11Mbits/sec, while fibre services are rated at 59Mbits/sec and – for Ultrafast broadband – 145Mbits/sec. Even the first fibre option should be fast enough for most homes: Netflix recommends 25Mbits/sec for watching a single 4K video stream. However, if you’re into online gaming or streaming services like Google Stadia, Sky’s new high-speed option should give you what you need.

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Compare the best Sky deals in your area

Sky ADSL Broadband

Sky’s basic ADSL broadband package – Sky Broadband Essentials – is an unlimited package with 11Mbits/sec average download speeds. It comes in at £20 a month for 18 months with a £19.95 setup fee, or you can buy it with Sky’s Broadband Boost features added on for an additional £5 a month.

Broadband Boost is designed to guarantee a fast and reliable connection with daily checks on your line, free engineer visits to fix problems and a Sky Broadband Buddy app that allows you to control family Internet usage and screen time. Whether this is worth the extra £5 is up to you.

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Sky Superfast and Ultrafast broadband

Sky’s Superfast fibre service promises an average speed of 59Mbits/sec, and is advertised at £29 per month (including line rental) on an 18-month contract. Once again, though, that’s not the whole story: you also have to pay £19.95 upfront to get going and, once your initial contract period expires, your monthly rate shoots up to £32 a month. That’s a little more than you’ll pay for similar speed services from Plusnet or EE.

For £4 extra per month you can have Sky Broadband Boost with a Wi-Fi guarantee. The latter ensures you’ll get a minimum 3Mbps WiFi speed in every room of your house, or Sky will send you a free Broadband Booster and even send a member of their tech team around to investigate.

If you want a speedier connection, Sky Ultrafast takes the average download speed up to 145Mbps, with upload speeds of up to 27Mbps. However, it’s only available in specific areas – it uses the same BT Openreach G.Fast technology as EE’s Fibre Max options – and prices start at £39 per month with a £40 setup fee.

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Sky broadband prices and packages

Sky Broadband Essentials Sky Superfast Sky Ultrafast
Price per month inc line rental £20 £29 (for 18mths, then £32) £39
Setup fee £19.95 £19.95 £39.95
Average speed 11Mbits/sec 59Mbits/sec 145Mbits/sec
Usage allowance Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Contract length 18 months 18 months 18 months

Sky Broadband (2020) review: Coverage

If you can get BT fibre you’ll be able to get Sky’s offering as well. That means more than 16 million homes are able to get Sky fibre across the UK. You can use the availability checker on Sky’s website to find out which services are available in your area.

If you can’t get fibre, you’ll still almost certainly be able to access the ADSL offering.

Sky Broadband (2020) review: Performance and customer satisfaction

Sky’s survey results placed it second for reliability with only Plusnet doing better. Nearly half of Sky’s customers said they were very satisfied with their connection’s reliability, with another quarter describing themselves as satisfied. Sky repeated the same trick with speed, getting a Highly Commended in this category with one-third of users very satisfied with Sky’s performance, and another 40% stating they were satisfied.

Ofcom’s latest broadband performance study (carried out in November 2018) places Sky slightly ahead of the competition on ADSL download speeds, with a 24hr average of 10.8-12.8Mbits/sec, matching Plusnet at 10.7-13Mbits/sec and beating both BT and TalkTalk.

However, the situation changes with Sky’s Superfast services, where Sky’s 24hr average speed (56.3-61Mbps) falls slightly behind BT and TalkTalk, at 62.4-64.6Mbits/sec and 61-64.5Mbits/sec respectively. It also falls behind Plusnet and EE. We don’t have any Ofcom data for Sky’s Ultrafast services yet, but in the superfast category there are faster options out there.

Sky also did reasonably well in our awards in the area of customer service. Here it placed third behind EE and Plusnet but stayed ahead of Virgin Media, BT, Vodafone and TalkTalk, with less than 7% of customers either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied and nearly a third of customers very satisfied with their service.

These figures reflect Ofcom’s customer service research, although here Sky fell slightly behind Virgin Media. Sky could do more to answer support calls quickly – its 84 seconds is well above the industry average – but Sky’s score for how well complaints were handled is actually the best in the business, with 54% of complaining customers coming away feeling satisfied.

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Sky Broadband (2020) review: Verdict

Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with Sky’s performance, nor its customer service. The Sky Q Hub router is one of the best (although it only has two Gigabit Ethernet ports).

You do have to watch the pricing, with some packages more competitive than others, and some nasty price hikes once the initial contract ends, but Sky isn’t the only supplier engaging in these practices, which seem more focused on winning new customers than retaining any loyalty. Rivals offer the same speeds for slightly less but it’s well worth checking out Sky’s deals when you’re next in the market for a new ISP.

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