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Sky Broadband Won’t Sell to People Unable to Get 2Mbps Speeds

Saturday, December 31st, 2016 (1:56 am) - Score 4,085

Reliable sources have informed ISPreview.co.uk that Sky Broadband has recently made a stealthy change to their Internet access packages, which means they are no longer selling broadband (of any type) to customers with a Minimum Access Line Speed (MALS) of 2Mbps or less.

The move, which effectively locks out many of those still stuck on slower or poor quality copper ADSL lines (e.g. people in remote rural areas), comes shortly after Sky made the headlines by announcing that their broadband packages would start promoting “average speeds” alongside the more optimistic / standard “up to” rates (here).

One of the fears about adopting an approach that advocates advertising “average speeds” is that it could encourage some providers to start rejecting orders from those with slower lines, which over the longer term may result in the ISP being able to raise their “average speeds” in promotions (i.e. the speeds would no longer be dragged down as much by those with slower lines).

This also limits the choice for those who still suffer from 2Mbps or slower lines, perhaps unfairly so. On the other hand Ofcom estimates that only around 1% of UK premises cannot get a download speed of more than 2Mbps (here), although the real-world figure may be a tiny bit higher.

At this point we should highlight that most Sky Broadband subscribers use the ISPs unbundled (LLU) network, which is available to a little over 90% of the United Kingdom. However Sky does still connect a fair few subscribers in the remaining 10% of the UK via their off-net BT based broadband service (a good proportion of these will be slower or rural lines).

Sky has confirmed to us that the policy change was implemented on 13th December 2016, just before they adopted “average speeds” and perhaps unsurprisingly it’s been done very quietly. Separately we also note that some of Sky’s On-Demand video content requires a compatible box and minimum download speed of 2Mbps.

In Sky’s view those who suffer speeds of 2Mbps or less on ADSL lines will encounter a poor broadband experience (e.g. trouble streaming video), but the ISP did inform us that they will offer an FTTC (VDSL) based “fibre broadband” connection as an alternative if its available and of course that’s assuming it can go faster than 2Mbps (note: many ISPs also consider sub-2Mbps speeds on VDSL/FTTC to be where they draw the viable performance line).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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29 Responses
  1. Dave says:

    Another nail in the coffin to 1 in 100 people being left behind.
    No this can’t be true, because we have been promised many times that we would not be left behind.
    Not to worry it will all be sorted out be 2020 anyway we will given £300 for satellite, job done.

    1. Gary Day says:

      Dave why don’t you contact us see if we can help your community sales@voneus.com.

    2. TheFacts says:

      Who promised you?

    3. Chris says:

      Well, that is just great. I am as far as BT is concerned on a sub 2Mbps line although in reality I get 3Mbps. I had to stop using BT because it kept dropping due to a problem in the exchange that they refused to admit to and fix (Openreach replaced everthing on their side and admitted it was a known fault). Anyway, I changed to Sky and all has worked well since.

      I am lucky though, we are getting Voneus – get a move on Gary:) – wireless internet in our village soon so Sky and BT can go whistle.


  2. MikeW says:

    Did anyone get fooled, and think that Sky actually cared?

    1. brianv says:

      Good business sense from Sky. Dump the dross on other providers, especially BT.

      These customers are likely to be on very long lines with lots of physical defects. Thats why they’re not even getting two megs.

      Sub-2Mb customers are really problematic punters. Clogging up Sky customer services with fault complaints and loss of service reports on a regular basis. Mostly due to plant failure in the local loop. I.e. faults for which BT is to blame, because of its crumbling copper infrastructure.

      Although BT is ultkmatrly responsible for all these copper faults, Sky nevertheless takes the flak from its own end-users, and it ain’t worth the hassle nor the expense in resolving their problems.

      Hence the wise decision to wash its hands of these customers altogether. Let BT clear up the mess it has created through neglect and lack of investment in the network.

    2. FibreFred says:

      “The dross”

      How would you feel being referred to as dross through no fault of your own?

    3. MikeW says:

      I agree – this scenario occurred to me too. Good business sense from Sky, while showing total contempt (again) for individual customers.

      Isn’t that what people accuse BT of? While expecting Sky to arrive on a white horse to rescue them?

      What we see in reality is cherry-picking of the highest order.

      Yet this is the “competition” that Sharon White and Matt Hancock think will improve the industry. This is what Ofcom foists on us instead of fibre, when it demands BT keeps copper for LLU purposes.

    4. Kevin says:

      Well done Sky about time more took the philosophy of we want to give you good speeds rather than rubbish. If we cant we aint gonna charge you for rubbish.

  3. craski says:

    I think Sky have been doing this for longer than just last few weeks. I did consider changing my ADSL line from BT to Sky a few months ago but the Sky checker said their phone and broadband service wasnt available to me. At the time it seemed a bit weird as Sky are LLU in my exchange but I wondered if it might be because they had no ports available but I also checked using a different local number (one that has ADSL around 5Mbps and has FTTC available) and their checker said it was available for that line.

  4. David says:

    payed for broadband speeds of 17mbps , got nowhere near that speed, geting 2.045 at the router, phoned to complain and was told they can provide speeds as low as 0.5 mbps and they still would nt be breaking there contract, basically told if i did nt like it leave. even though it cost me to get out of the contract, i left. sky,s customer service is poor .would nt recommend you to anybody .felt you was just taking the money and as long as i was in contract could nt do nothing, so i voted with my feet and moved.

    1. Cunning Stunt says:

      You must not of read the speed estimate properly upon ordering…

      Sky is correct saying what they’ve said…

      Can you confirm your new ISP has done any better?

  5. Richard Thompson says:

    This is what comes from idiotic rules determining advertised speeds.

    All providers should simply be made to send customers to the BTW checker for an estimate, as it makes no difference to sync speed which provider you choose.

    1. FibreFred says:

      That’s exactly it… be careful what you wish for (advertised speeds)

    2. Peter Taylor says:

      It would make a difference if you end up on Sky “Connect” instead of ADSL 2+!

  6. Ignition says:

    Confirmed. Sky offer me fibre only, not ADSL.

    1. GNewton says:

      No, Sky doesn’t offer fibre. They offer VDSL.

    2. Oggy says:

      What about in York Newts?

      Do they offer fibre there?

    3. fastman says:

      Bnewton — semantics as ever — if you want something else — then pay for it

    4. fastman says:

      don’t forget its cost Sky money for a LLU sky customer to have fibre as they have to buy GEA to enable that cct to be delivered

    5. Oggy says:

      With errors like like Newts’ Trustpilot rating is going to go through the floor.

  7. Cunning Stunt says:

    If I’m correct, this is Ofcom’s fault for enforcing such silly advertising guidelines…. I saw this coming immediately after seeing the headline regarding the new advertising standards.

    Coincidently though, I recently contacted Sky about my Fibre connection (73/20)… I needed the connection moving to an address which is outside of Openreachs fibre network and adsl speeds are around 1.5-2.5mbps…

    I was half expecting Sky to do what other ISP’s such as BT and Plusnet have told me in the past which is as long as they can provide an ‘broadband service’ I will still be held to contract, Sky however didn’t even consider me keeping the connection specially when they learnt Virgin’s DOCSIS network was available to me… they’ve actioned the cancellation immediately (14 days)

    I thought this was Sky just being awesome… maybe not 😀

    1. Ignition says:

      These aren’t requirements, this is something Sky are doing voluntarily, presumably to try and encourage the ASA to proceed with these rules.

    2. Cunning Stunt says:

      Oh right, well I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if this plays out…

      I think its a good idea on first glance but the more I think about it, it does alienate a small yet vast user base, though could push for further superfast coverage…

      Though I don’t think this is the way to go… however it is also a good way to promote higher products… chances are this played a major part in Sky’s decision..

  8. Rtho782 says:

    Sky stand to gain from this as they have never really pushed an 80mbit product, so they have lots of 40/10 fttc users on a max sync.

    This means they have a high average, so the random Joe who can only achieve 30mbit will switch to them because “it’s faster” with these rules in place.

    Just like when sky push for Openreach separation, they only care about themselves.

  9. Peter Taylor says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the next step is to discontinue the “Sky Broadband Connect” product to new subscribers if they wish to use average speeds in their advertising.

    With its maximum download speed of 8Mbps, most users who are not on a LLU exchange and/or cannot get VDSL would be better off avoiding “Connect” and getting ADSL 2+ where available from another supplier.

    Alternatively, Sky could boost their average speeds by moving their “Connect” customers from that dreadful product to ADSL 2+, at a cost!

  10. Cecil Ward says:

    Someone must not of been to school. Sad really.

    1. gerarda says:

      “not of been”? Back to school for you too young man.

    2. MikeW says:

      “must not of” – seems to be similar to the odd usage employed by Cunning Stunt earlier.

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