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UPDATE ISP Sky Broadband Adopt Average Speeds and Dedicated Tech Team

Wednesday, Dec 21st, 2016 (12:01 am) - Score 2,357

Sky Broadband will today become the first ISP in the United Kingdom to start advertising their headline packages using average download speeds. On top of that they’ve tweaked some of their broadband prices / contract lengths and launched a new dedicated “Tech Team” to boost customer support.

At present the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) requires ISPs to promote a headline speed that is achievable by at least 10% of their customers (i.e. the fastest 10%), which must also be preceded by an “up to” qualifier and a “prominent disclaimer” of any aspects that could impact the service performance.

As a result of the above Sky and other ISPs tend to advertise broadband packages that use pure copper line ADSL2+ (20Mbps+) technology as offering download speeds of ‘up to’ 17Mbps or similar, while services that use the 40Mbps or 80Mbps FTTCfibre broadband” profiles tend to be promoted as ‘up to’ 38Mbps or ‘up to’ 76Mbps respectively.

However the ASA has recently come under a lot of political pressure to improve how broadband speeds are advertised (details) and as such they’re currently consulting on a number of proposals with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which will report back during Spring 2017 with some draft proposals.

One such option is for ISPs to adopt an “average speed” in their advertising, which would result in a noticeable reduction in the promoted headline speeds of some packages. Whatever the outcome, most ISPs won’t wish to look uncompetitive and so will wait for a final decision from the ASA before changing their approach, but Sky Broadband has decided to pre-judge the watchdog by formally adopting an “average speed“.

Sky Broadband’s Average Speeds

* Sky Broadband Unlimited

OLD Speed: up to 17Mbps
NEW Average Speed: 9Mbps

* Sky Fibre UnlimitedOLD Speed: up to 38Mbps
NEW Average Speed: 34Mbps

* Sky Fibre Unlimited / Sky Fibre Max

OLD Speed: up to 76Mbps
NEW Average Speed: 60Mbps

The move carries an obvious risk of causing consumer confusion, particularly if the ASA / CAP decide to take a different approach, although Sky will no doubt seek to promote their approach as being more reflective of likely customer connection performance vs rivals. At present the change only mentions download speeds and so we’d expect upload speeds to remain swept under the carpet.

We should point out that Sky, much like other ISPs, are most likely using estimates of line speed(s) to reach their averages, as opposed to real-world speed testing.

Tech Team

Some people may recall that Sky Broadband’s old Sky Fibre Pro package originally included some enhanced customer support features, although this was dropped in August after the package was refreshed under the cheaper Sky Fibre Max label (here).

However Sky has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that they’re now going to reintroduce introduce a new, dedicated UK team of “experts” who have been “specially trained to resolve customers’ broadband issues“. The information we have is that this will apply to all of their broadband packages.

Price Tweaks and Contract Changes

Finally, Sky claims to be launching the “UK’s lowest fibre broadband and line rental offer” today, although it’s exclusive for their Sky TV customers. Essentially Sky TV subscribers will be able to take their 25GB capped Sky Fibre (Average speeds of 34Mbps) package for just £20 inc. VAT per month including line rental (usually £27.40) and a reduced one-off setup fee of £19.95 will also apply.

However it’s not all good news because a separate update from our advertising network states that the one-off setup fee for the Sky Fibre packages (i.e. for those who don’t take Sky TV) will actually be increasing from £48.95 yesterday to £59.95 today. We believe this applies to new customers rather than upgrades, but we’ll check again later this morning and correct that if wrong.

On the flip side their entry-level Sky Broadband Unlimited package looks set to be reduced from £27.40 to £17.40 per month for the first 12 months of service. The offer will run from today until midnight on 23rd Feb 2017.

Lyssa McGowan, Sky’s Director of Communication Products, said:

“Faster and more reliable internet is becoming ever more important for our TV customers. That’s why we are offering Sky Fibre at such a brilliant price, exclusively for our Sky TV customers, alongside launching our new, dedicated Broadband Tech Team, so they get the best service in town.”

The other big change is that Sky Broadband’s 12 month contract terms are being lengthened to 18 months for new Fibre customers. We hope to update this article once the official press release is in our hands.

NOTE: At the time of writing Sky has not yet updated their website, although we expect that to happen later today.

UPDATE 9:34am

The changes are now live on Sky’s website (we’ve also added a comment from Sky above) and there’s an interesting twist, with the 25GB capped Sky Fibre package stating an “average speed” of 24Mbps, while their Sky Fibre Unlimited service states the 34Mbps figure.

Both packages use a 40Mbps FTTC profile and no traffic management is applied to Sky’s broadband service, so this may reflect a difference between the line speeds of those customers who take the capped vs unlimited service. A touch confusing, perhaps. We’ve added this change above.

On top of that Sky have chosen to continue advertising their old ‘up to’ speeds alongside the new average speeds, which is perhaps a wise move until “average speeds” are adopted around the industry (assuming that even happens). On the other hand the use of both may cause further confusion for some potential customers.

Sky also intends to launch a new SkyFibre ad campaign, which will run in partnership with Warner Bros. and features LEGO® Batman. The ad will hit screens from 28th December and should help to promote their new approach to advertised speeds.

UPDATE 10:44am

It looks like the brief appearance of 24Mbps on the capped Sky Fibre package was a mistake as their website has now changed it back to 34Mbps.

Keith is a computer engineer and website developer from Dorset (England) who also assists, on a part-time basis, in the general upkeep of ISPreview.co.uk's systems and services. He also writes the occasional editorial and special offer article. Find me on Contacts.
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