Customers of O2 / BE Broadband’s fixed line home broadband and phone service have this week been told that the £180m+ sale to Sky Broadband (BSkyB) “has now gone through” and related subscribers are thus “officially with Sky“. But the actual migration to Sky will not get underway until this Autumn 2013.
O2’s newsletter doesn’t offer much in the way of new information and advises customers that Sky will contact them within the next few days to “explain how they’ll be transferring everyone’s broadband service over to their network“. The phased migration is then expected to take around 18 months to complete.
The letter also points to a new page on Sky’s own website (http://www.sky.com/shop/welcome/home/), which covers the O2/BE migration and includes a few small bits of new information. For example, it notes that O2/BE customers who DON’T have a phone line with the operator “won’t have to take these services with Sky” (e.g. if your phone line is still with another operator like BT then that will not be changed).
Sky’s O2/BE Information Page – Network Migration & Terms
“Nothing will change for you right away and for now you’ll continue to get exactly the same home broadband and phone service (if you have it) as you do now and we will continue to supply your O2 or BE products under your current Terms & Conditions. We’ll give you at least one month’s notice plus some more reminders nearer to the transfer day and let you know when it’s time for your services to be switched over.”
Officially of course the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is still examining Sky and O2’s deal under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002, which is a regulatory test that’s designed to ensure the deal doesn’t result in a “substantial lessening of competition“.
The OFT expects to announce its decision around 16th May 2013, although few expect them to rule against the deal as it does not appear to threaten competition in the wider market for home broadband and phone services. In addition the completion of Sky’s transaction is not dependent upon having OFT approval.
In the meantime readers can find more details about the specifics of O2’s sale to Sky in our original March 2013 news article (here). Crucially it remains to be seen how Sky will choose to handle the migration of BE and O2’s more advanced packages (e.g. line bonding), which often included features such as Static IP address blocks and faster upload speeds that aren’t currently available via Sky’s default Unlimited service.
As a final note O2 has today officially pulled its Home Broadband product pages, although there’s been no change at BE Broadband.
UPDATE 2nd May 2013
It’s worth pointing out that Sky’s FAQ page now also mentions the issue of special “technical features“, such as static IP addresses, although it’s still pretty vague.
We have asked Sky to clarify its position twice but they keep directing us to the non-committal FAQ, which states, “We’re aware of the importance BE customers place on some of the technical features of their service and we’re actively investigating what we can do in that space – particularly around things like static IP, customised line profiles targeted at gamers etc.”
Sky has already invested in superfast fibre broadband services and truly unlimited packages on both DSL and Fibre, now we’re looking at investment in additional features we’ll also be engaging with BE members to get your views, and keep you updated with our progress in this space.”
UPDATE 11th May 2013
BE Broadband has advised their customers that they won’t have to send their routers back when the migration happens. Sky Broadband have also suggested that they’re “working hard” to develop support for third party routers, which would allow BE customers to keep on using them. But as before there’s no concrete confirmation.. yet.