Sky UK Limited, previously known as British Sky Broadcasting or BSkyB is a company which provides telecommunications across the United Kingdom. Initially providing television services with extra channels beyond those of regular terrestrial television, Sky UK Limited has gone on to now provide broadband services to its customers, as well as landline and mobile telephone services. Having expanded quickly, Sky UK Limited is the most used pay-TV services in the UK and is fast becoming one of the largest broadband providers.
Sky UK Limited began providing broadband services in October 2005 after purchasing the ISP EasyNet for £211 million. By purchasing EasyNet, Sky gained access to 232 unbundled telephone exchanges, creating the new brand of Sky known as Sky Broadband. Sky Broadband managed to reach 1 million customers within two years, expanding to around 4 million customers by 2012, claiming that a new customer is added to their repertoire every 40 seconds, covering around 70% of unbundled exchanges across the UK.
The company expanded even further in March 2013 when they bought out the broadband business from Telefonica UK, who were known under the trading names of O2 and BE. This gained them an extra £200 million revenue, transferring all customers by 2014.
Sky Broadband works in two main ways, depending on whether regular of fibre optic broadband is installed.
Regular Sky Broadband works using ADSL, which stands for asymmetrical digital subscriber line. This type of broadband provides connections through a home telephone line, supplied in the UK by British Telecom. This is why Sky Broadband is linked to the regular telephone land line. Sky Broadband uses a process called local loop unbundling to provide the internet through BT lines, whereby their own software is installed into the exchanges.
Currently, the most popular form of broadband available, ADSL works by using the already-installed copper wires that come through from BT, meaning that it requires very little installation. When ADSL is installed, a small filter is placed in the phone connection which separates the phone line and the broadband connection via frequency differentiation. It is the most common form of connection as almost every home in the UK already has access to the hardware needed for installation.
Do not be confused with the old ASDL system which came before broadband. This system, also known as dial-up, disrupted the phone lines, using the modem to translate sound waves into visual images on the computer screen. Rather than disrupting the lines, broadband splits the line, separating the telephone from the internet, differentiating the sound frequencies, meaning both can function simultaneously.
However, Sky Broadband also provides an additional new service of fibre optic broadband. Where ASDL has its speed limitations, fibre optic connections are much faster. Where ASDL uses the copper telephone lines, fibre optic cables consist of a hundred glass fibres that are coated in plastic. These tiny threads are each around the size of a human hair in diameter. The connection works on account of the refraction along the glass fibres which act to mirror the coded information down the wire. Consider the fibre optic toys that children play with where light is refracted up the fibre optic stems from a source at the bottom; fibre optic broadband works similarly. The information, unlike ASDL which uses sound, transfers the coded data through light, which travels along the fibre, bouncing from the walls, acting like a series of mirrors spaced at regular intervals. The light bouncing off the walls at very shallow angles, less than 42 degrees, allowing the light pulses containing the data to move along the wires, even when the cables are bent around corners.
Sky Broadband uses a system called Fibre-to-the-cabinet or FTTC. This is done by fibre optic cables running from the exchange point to the 'cabinet’ on each street where fibre optic is available. From this cabinet, BT’s regular copper home phone lines are used to bring the connection into homes, allowing it to be installed using the regular phone line. While the copper wire slows down the connection slightly, the distance from the road to each house is very short, meaning that the connection runs at light-speed up to the cabinet, only slowing a little as it enters houses, making the difference mostly unnoticeable. However, it is important to note that if the houses are farther apart, especially in areas that are more rural, the connection is likely to be slightly slower.
On a general scale, Sky Broadband is attempting to target everybody in need of broadband services in their home. Currently, Sky Broadband does not have a business package option and therefore tends to focus its efforts on providing domestic services to the home user.
Since Sky Broadband is a branch of Sky, which preliminarily began by simply providing satellite TV operations, Sky tends to focus their efforts on switching existing Sky customers to their broadband services. The Sky TV packages are tailored to go hand-in-hand with the broadband services, and pricing reflects this with package deals. This can be seen with their marketing toward downloading and storing 'catch-up TV’, enticing people to utilise their broadband services to support their television habits.
While Sky Broadband is available separately from the television services, Sky UK Limited tend to offer package deals which encourage users to indulge in both the broadband and television services. It is generally cheaper to have the broadband services tied in with a television contract than to just have the broadband as a stand-alone product. With this in mind, Sky appears to focus their marketing efforts toward targeting existing Sky customers, as they are more likely to succumb to cheaper broadband as they already utilise the television services. This can be demonstrated through their advertisements which tend to focus on showcasing the speed of their television downloading services in comparison to other providers, coupled with the exaggeration on the fact that Sky is owned by 21st Century Fox, showing that they provide the best cinematic experience.
In terms of their advertising content, Sky seems to hone in on the family, targeting wide audiences by demonstrating how Sky can be utilised by the whole family, through a wide range of services. As Sky Broadband tends to pride itself on its ease of use, it can be seen that Sky UK Limited are trying to target the non-tech corner of the market, enticing audiences who use broadband for everyday consumption as opposed to specific technical operations such as gaming and coding.
Sky has been known to target women in their efforts to corner the everyday market, enticing the stereotypically less tech-savvy audience, while focusing on a more up-market audience. This is likely due to the fact that pay-TV is somewhat of a luxury, only afforded by those with disposable income.
While Sky does not currently have a business broadband setup, it does have four broadband packages which it offers customers. The first is regular ASDL broadband known as 'Sky Broadband Unlimited’. This package costs £17.40 for the line rental for the first 12 months with a one-off payment of £9.95 for setup and installation. This package allows for unlimited usage without data limits with download speeds of up to 9Mb, while also enabling you to watch Sky Go on up to 2 devices. This package is ideal for the everyday family with no specific requirements for particularly fast internet.
Alternatively, Sky Broadband offers fibre optic packages. For an extra £10, without the TV package, you can switch to Sky Fibre broadband. This increases the download speed from 9Mb to 34Mb. However, there is a limitation of 25Gb a month, which is still a sizeable package for the average family who are not looking to upload or download heavy amounts of data. The setup fee is also slightly higher at £19.95 as a one-off payment. Skytalk and line rental are included with these fees.
For unlimited data usage, you can upgrade to Sky Fibre Unlimited for an additional £10 a month, making the package £34.40, with the same installation and setup fee of £19.95. This 18-month contract allows for download speeds of around 34Mb. Skytalk and line rental are also included with this package. This package is tailored toward regular size families who stream TV services and download vast amounts of data, such as a child who may enjoy online gaming.
The largest package offered for broadband is Sky Fibre Max. This package is for people looking for super-fast broadband with unlimited data usage. It costs £42.40 a month with the same one-off fee of £19.95. The contract is for 18 months and provides download speeds of up to 60Mbs, nearly double what the other fibre optic packages enable.
While Sky Broadband Unlimited is £17.40 a month for the first year to new Sky Broadband customers, after the first 12 months, the fee goes up to £27.40 a month, making this deal a steal for new customers looking to invest in standard broadband.
Sky also provides a series of TV bundles which enable you to combine Sky TV with your broadband package. If you are an existing customer of Sky TV, this will lower the cost of installing broadband with Sky. If you are not an existing customer, these packages enable you to access their TV and phone services while lowering the overall cost of broadband. For £42 a month for the first 18 months, Sky is offering their standard TV package, access to their live app, the basic fibre optic package, and £75 reward as a prepaid-Mastercard or a Tesco/Marks and Spencers voucher. The Mastercard can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard except for gambling, withdrawing cash, purchasing currency, receiving cashback, or buying petrol.
For a further £10, you can get everything above but can upgrade to their Variety TV package which gives over twice the amount of channels, including a wider range of children’s television channels. For an addition £5 a month on top of that, you can access Sky Box Sets, which enables you to view over 350 box sets of TV series, plus extra HD channels.
You can save money by upgrading your existing broadband package for the first 18 months. If you upgrade from Sky Broadband Unlimited to Sky Fibre Broadband, you will pay just £20 for the first 18 months (including line rental). Upgrading to Sky Fibre Broadband Unlimited will mean you only spend £30 a month for the first 18 months, and £37.40 thereafter. Sky Fibre Max Unlimited only costs £35 a month to upgrade, and £42.40 after the first 18 months.
All of these packages include Sky Q, which enables catch-up TV. It enables you to record the TV programs that you may miss, and the box comes with either 1 or 2 terabytes space, enabling large amounts of storage of TV programs. The Sky Q boxes also act as wifi hotspots, increasing the signal of Sky Broadband around your house.
Alternatively, you can add additional fibre optic allowances to any of these packages to increase data usage and download speeds.
By purchasing 18-month contracts as stated on the website, Sky customers are able to decrease the cost of regular pay-per-moth packages. These savings come to around £170 for each package based on the original cost of setup and the cost of the delivery of the Sky box, which is waivered when these packages are purchased at the moment.
Sky Broadband is fast becoming one of the largest and most competitive suppliers in the market for in-home broadband. The combination of broadband and TV services enables customers to access the internet at incredibly fast speeds, utilising new fibre optic technology while using the TV services of multiple channels and recordable data as a means to fit your flexible schedule. Sky bundles enable you to consolidate all your communication needs in one place, with your entertainment alongside it, bringing you a neat and competitive price for the whole set. Aimed at servicing the whole family, Sky’s products are simple to use while ensuring they target the whole family, from children’s channels to gaming speed fibre optic to low-price telephone services. If you already invest in Sky TV, it is the best option for employing broadband in your home, providing low prices for fast, reliable, unlimited broadband services. It is important to note that the proliferation of Sky UK Limited across the UK means that they cover a wide geographical of services, with their television capabilities extending out further than ever before.