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Sky SR101 ADSL and Fibre Broadband Router Review

Sections

Introduction
What you get for your money
Using the Router
Performance
Conclusion
Photos

Introduction

The latest Sky router replaces the older Sagem 2504n model which looked like a mini Sky+ box. The new router has more of the appearance of a Mac mini or other small form PC.

The new router is available for £39 to existing customers until January 2013, when the price will rise to £69. The question is whether it is worth upgrading, and after this short review you will hopefully have a better idea of how the two routers compare. The hardware is locked to the Sky broadband services.

Sky SR101 Router
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The new router supports 802.11n but only up to a connection speed of 144 Mbps, with no dual-band support. Additionally the LAN ports are all 100 Mbps only, which for the current generation of FTTC (up to 80 Mbps) products is OK, but suggests another router will appear if Sky ever starts selling an FTTP service.

What you get for your money

The cardboard packaging is pretty minimalist, exactly the sort of box you would expect an engineer to arrive at your door with really. Inside you get an ADSL lead (thoughtfully plugged into one microfilter) and a mains lead. There is a second microfilter and Ethernet cable hidden underneath the router and its Set Up Guide.

Sky SR101 Router Box Contents
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The router has its power supply built in, which helps to avoid the power brick clustering we all end up with on extension strips. There is no power switch on the router, so for those going on holiday for a week or two and want to switch things off, unplug at the mains socket.

Sky SR101 Router LED
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The front of the router features four LED's, and the WPS button. The wireless LED flashes red when the WPS system is used to link devices to the router. Sky helpfully includes a small credit card sized note of your default wireless password and PIN, as well being written on the rear of the router.

Sky SR101 Router Rear Ports
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Using the Router

The router is pretty easy to use. Unpack it, remove its plastic wrapper and plug all the leads in, power it up and wait for a minute for it to sync and authenticate with the ADSL2+ service. You will get a smiley face once the router is ready.

Sky SR101 Router Web Interface Main Status Page
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The routers default IP address is 192.168.0.1, with a username of admin and password sky. The further diagnostic help page provides more details, including your connection speeds.

Sky SR101 Router Status Page
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A Show Statistics button at the foot of this page will display your ADSL2+ services attenuation, noise margin and connection speeds.

The router has the basic wireless security configuration options, and if you find your devices are not 802.11n compatible you can reduce the wireless standards to the slower more compatible modes if you need to.

As the router is locked to Sky, there is very little in the way of WAN setup, beyond support for DMZ, port forwarding and other basic features. The router helpfully has WAN ping/icmp response enabled by default and works with our Broadband Quality Monitoring system.

Sky SR101 Router WAN Configuration Options
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The screenshot shows the router is configured to automatically detect the mode to operate in, with the router using the ADSL socket when it detects a signal on it, otherwise it will look for the Openreach FTTC modem on the bottom LAN port. You can force the modes if you want to.

Performance

The new SR101 Sky router has been touted as having better automatic channel hoping and wireless performance. So we have done our standard speed testing on it, and with just a 144 Mbps wireless signal, it is fair to say that we did not expect the router to beat the speeds seen by many third party wireless routers and access points.

Sky SR101 Router located on top floor
Location Wireless Link Speed Measured Speed
Gigabit LAN Switch 1000 Mbps 685 Mbps
SR101 100 Meg LAN 100 Mbps 93 Mbps
Same room LAN to WiFi 144 Mbps 55 Mbps
Middle Floor 144 Mbps 52 Mbps
Ground Floor 116 Mbps 42 Mbps
Kitchen 13 Mbps 4.5 Mbps
Conservatory 5.5 Mbps 0.5 Mbps
Shed No signal No Signal


Sky SR101 Router located on ground floor
Location Wireless Link Speed Measured Speed
SR101 100 Meg LAN 100 Mbps 93 Mbps
Same room LAN to WiFi 144 Mbps 51 Mbps
Middle Floor 144 Mbps 38 Mbps
Ground Floor 116 Mbps 34 Mbps
Kitchen 130 Mbps 32 Mbps
Conservatory 52 Mbps 20 Mbps
Shed 6 Mbps 0.1 Mbps


Old Sky Sagem 2504n Router located on top floor
Location Wireless Link Speed Measured Speed
SR101 100 Meg LAN 100 Mbps 93 Mbps
Same room LAN to WiFi 144 Mbps 50 Mbps
Middle Floor 144 Mbps 42 Mbps
Ground Floor 116 Mbps 27 Mbps
Kitchen 38 Mbps 19.2 Mbps
Conservatory 19 Mbps 1.2 Mbps
Shed 5.5 Mbps 0.2 Mbps

The property is an older style brick building with wooden floors, hence the good signal vertically, the kitchen and other rooms give worse reception as there are brick walls in the way. The shed has a floor, wall and 25m of outdoor space, hence why it is usually the limit for wireless hardware.

Conclusions

With the old Sky router and new Sky router offering essentially the same nominal wireless speeds there is very little between them. The old router appears to perform better on the fringes of reception, which is a surprise given the marketing claims. We did the extra readings on the ground floor so that people could assess the horizontal propagation.

So the conclusion is if you have the Sagem 2504n, save yourself £39 and don't upgrade. If you have an older different model of Sky router then the upgrade might be worthwhile.

If the router had added support for USB storage or Gigabit LAN ports and the option of 300 Mbps Wi-Fi then the decision would be harder, it seems for now that the market for wireless extenders like the Asus EA-N66 is still safe.

Photos

Please click on an image to see it in full resolution.