Satellite broadcaster Sky is the latest company to enter the increasingly competitive broadband market.
It’s launched three packages aimed at its existing 8 million subscribers. These range from a free service offering download speeds of up to 2MB to a premium service offering a top-speed connection of up to 16MB and costing £10 a month.
All three products are available to any Sky digital customer with access to Sky’s broadband network, which currently covers 28 per cent of households including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The satellite giant says the network is expected to reach 70 per cent of all UK households by the end of 2007.
Free service Sky Broadband Base offers downloads of up to 2MB, with a 2GB total monthly usage cap. Sky Broadband Mid costs £5 a month, and its speeds are to up 8MB, with a 40GB cap on usage while Sky Broadband Max costs £10 a month and has download speeds of up to 16MB and unlimited downloads. Connection fees are £40 for the Base option, £20 for the Mid package and nothing for the Max deal.
New customers can join Sky digital for a fee starting at £15 per month (minimum 12 months) and sign up for Sky Broadband at the same time.
Sky is offering a fourth ‘Connect’ broadband package to customers not currently covered by its network. They pay £40 to connect and then £17 a month; download speeds are up to 8MB. They will then be offered the Base, Mid or Max products as their area gets connected to Sky.
Which Senior Researcher Ceri Stanaway said: ‘It seems the predicted “broadband price wars” are kicking off in earnest, with Sky following in the footsteps of TalkTalk and Orange in the latest “free” broadband offer.
‘It’s great news for consumers that broadband prices are coming down, although the increased trend towards bundling free or low cost broadband with another service – in Sky’s case, digital TV – makes it more difficult for consumers to compare services and work out which is right for them.’
Ceri Stanaway added: ‘If you already have, or were thinking of getting, Sky TV and are a relatively low user of broadband, then Sky’s free broadband is likely to mean cost savings overall if you can get it, despite the £40 connection fee.
‘But bear in mind that the speed of the free service is fairly slow compared with many standalone broadband packages – 8MB is rapidly becoming the industry standard – and if you exceed the 2GB download limit you may be penalised. Ironically, watching TV over broadband or downloading programs and films are the activities that are most likely to blow your download limits.’
Sky’s broadband sales are due to begin in early August but customers can register now. You can visit Sky’s broadband website to choose the most suitable package and carry out a simple availability check.
Availability check and registration is also available on television via Sky Active and by telephone on 08702 402900.