Right guys, as you may already know Sky have launched their broadband service a few months ago and it is now enabled on most Wirral exchanges (can't confirm which ones at the moment as samknows is offline).
Anyway, it is exclusive to Sky Digital customers (don't worry, new customer can take up the service too, and it might work out as good as, if not cheaper then, having a broadband supplier on its own, never mind the fact that you have Sky TV with it.
There are millions of companies in the broadband market nowdays. I personally have been using Virgin.net for the last year and had nothing but excellent service from them, but I am now out of contract and have decided its much cheaper to get Sky Broadband.
So whats so special about Sky Broadband, and why am I going to jump from a service that is both ultra reliable and fast I hear you say. There are a few reasons for my decision to move:
- Cost; I am paying £17.99 per month for Virgin 2Mbps with Virgin - this would be totally free with Sky as I already have Sky Digital and have no intention whatsoever of getting rid - I love Sky+ too much.
- Infastructure - Virgin has both its own network and it also peers with NTL (as NTL are owned by Virgin) so they have an excellent network and the reason it is very reliable - but Sky have an even stronger network. BSKYB bought a company called Easynet about 18 months ago. For people who have never heard of Easynet, they are the biggest independent corporate telecoms provider and have been BT's strongest competitor in the corp market for many years. Because they were previously corporate only, their infastructure is as solid as a rock. They also own multiple data centres across Europe, as well as thier own huge IP Transit backbones, and all in all it makes them one of the largest telecoms companies in the world. The Cruisewirral server is located in the Easynet data centre in Amsterdam
- Sky's Reputation - the sole reason Sky are as big as they are in the television market is due a mixture of sensible investment, in depth market research and very strict product research and development ethics. Cable television is not "really" worse then Sky, it "should" actually be better. But the cable companies of the UK are years behind Sky due to their stupid ruthless investing (which has proved almost fatal to the cable tv industry on more then one occasion), a complete lack of market research (eg. cable companies only ever targetted area's where the masses were nothing more then "working class" or unemployed, because they thought this was the way to get customers), and the fact that every product they have released has been a riddled with bugs and problems and is years behind Sky, with the exception of the excellent cable internet services.
So hopefully Sky will have put as much development into Sky Broadband as they have with everything else they have launched in the past and it should be on the same high quality level as their other services.
++Overview of the service itself
To get Sky Broadband, you have to have Sky Digital at present. The minimum package is priced at £15.00 per month. But don't go mistaking this for something similar to the crappy "base" packages that cable companies offer. The £15.00 per month package includes to "tv packs" which means you can have all channels like all the UK channels, all the Discovery channels etc, basically anything that isnt Sky Sports or Sky Movies.
Once you have Sky Digital, you can then choose a Sky Broadband package, provided your exchange is LLU'ed by Easynet (I will confirm these asap).
The packages are as follows (fee's are payable monthly as an additional service on your Sky bill:
Free with all packages:
- Sky Wireless ADSL2+ Router (actually a Sky branded Neatgear DG843GT worth about £70 online)
- McAffee Personal Internet Firewall and Anti Virus (i probably wont use, but its good for people who dont have protection)
- 10 @sky.com POP3/IMAP email addresses
- Free - 2Mbps/2GB Usage/£40 one time activation fee
- £5.00 - 8Mbps/40GB Usage/£20.00 one time activation fee
- £10.00 - 16Mbps/Unlimited Usage/£Free activation
Now I have personally gone for the 8Mbps package. My reasons for this are that whilst 2Mbps is more then fast enough for me, the usage limit is a bit too low, and although probably never implemented unless you take the pi$$, id rather have a better amount. I didnt even think about the 16Mbps package as its just a numbers game nowdays, nobody will ever need 16Mbps speed, the package will only be handy for families with more then 3 pc's online and users who use a LOT of bandwidth.
The service is based on the ADSL2+ technology, This means that it can operate at upto 24Mbps as opposed to the 8Mbps of standard ADSL. However, there are three reasons that Sky may be holidng off a 24Mbps service. The first is, they are simply realistic and don't believe anyone needs such a speed. The second is they have researched and found that many customers of the other three UK companies offering 24Mbps have a lot of customers who get nowhere near these speeds, so by limiting it to 16Mbps, customers are more likely to achieve the desired speeds. The thrid reason could be that Sky are keeping 8Mbps reserved for a future IPTV service, similar to their Homechoice service offered in many parts of london.
++Now to the ongoing review of the service itself.
I telephoned Sky last week to order broadband. It was Thursday night. They asked me to phone up Virgin and get a MAC (migration authorisation code), so that I could transfer the service on my phoneline to them, so they can enable Sky Broadband on my line. They also debited the £20.00 activation fee from my credit card.
I did this, and credit to Virgin, they had no problems with giving me this code (a lot of companies make it hard to get the code in the hope they can hold onto you). They said I would get it in about 5 days via email. The very next day (Friday) the code arrived. So I phoned up Sky on the number they gave me, the woman took the code and confirmed it was correct. She then arranged the delivery of the free Sky Broadband box. She then gave me a few useful direct numbers for customer support and technical support etc and another number should I have problems on the activation date. The call was answered straight away, no waiting around, another positive.
Today I recieved both the Sky Broadband and the confirmation letter of the service activation. The box is of excellent build quality and very stylish indeed. It also includes 3 microfilters, an ethernet cable to get you started if you dont have wireless on your PC and the usual other bits and pieces you expect with a router. It also included the Sky Broadband CD which contains the McAffee internet protection software.
I am now just awaiting activation of the service, so I will update the review when it is activated.
Any questions fire away!