Sky Fibre Max gets new stronger speed guarantee
Campaigners have been trying to make providers deliver products where you only pay for the speed that people receive but the distinct danger with this path is that the final outcome would be pay per GigaByte of traffic downloaded and uploaded. In the mean time Sky appears to be taking the move towards average speeds in advertising seriously and is preparing its Sky Fibre Max by offering customers who have below average speeds to drop to a different product.
Sky is not the first big name to try and segment customers onto a less well known and little advertised product, BT Consumer has done this for some years where those with a sub 15 Mbps VDSL2 estimate are stopped from buying BT Infinity 1 and pushed towards a 'Faster Broadband' product, which unfortunately is also more expensive for reasons unknown. The big difference with what Sky is doing is that the secondary product offer is actually less expensive so makes more sense, the new up to 52 Mbps download (up to 9.5 Mbps upload) service is said to be £2.50 per month less expensive according to ISPreview.
For existing Sky Fibre Max customers if you have had the service for more than 30 days and your connection speed or as some call it sync speed is consistently below 55 Mbps they will let you move to the either Sky Fibre Unlimited Plus (55/10) or Sky Fibre Unlimited (38/10). Be aware that the 55 Mbps that Sky is talking about in its Sky Fibre Max Speed Guarantee is the connection speed reported by the Sky Q Hub, a 55 Mbps connection speed will give a maximum TCP/IP throughput of 52 Mbps usually so should speed test in the 51 to 52 Mbps region. For those making the decision remember that you may also lose some upload speed so if you upload lots of data e.g. cloud backup then you may want to stay on the top tier.
For those who contact Sky within the first 30 days of the service going live things are a bit different as you will get any set-up fees credited to your account and a pro-rata refund for the price difference between Max and the product you switch to. The other option in the first 30 days is to cancel the contract with no early terminations charges - whether this means a cease or they will give you time to complete a migration to another provider is unclear.
This guarantee is in some senses nothing more than what the Ofcom Broadband Speeds Code of Practice calls for signatories to do, where Sky is upping the game is the introduction of this mid tier option.
There is one area of the Sky guarantee we disagree with and want to draw attention to, and that is what happens to your VDSL2 connection in the first ten days of its life.
Please note: In the first 10 days after your Fibre services have been activated, we test your phone line so that we can provide you with the best performance.
This means during the first 10 days, you might notice some variations in speed – this is completely normal. Please keep your Hub turned on at all times as this helps us get the most information about your line's performance, so we can select the best settings for your connection.Sky on a 10 stabilisation period
Providers who use the GEA-FTTC services have no ability to test the line for performance and tweak your line during this mythical ten day period, the reality is that when the service is ordered one of three Dynamic Line Management (DLM) profiles are selected and these set the core parameters that the Openreach DLM system will operate within. Openreach VDSL2 lines generally start at the best speeds the modem and DSLAM negotiate once the service is live and only if the error rates trigger the DLM does the speed flucuate and usually in the downward direction. If the DLM is triggered the biggest changes are usually in the first day or two, but the DLM system remains active for the life time of the service, i.e. there is no magic date when your connection speed will stop varying. Sky is far from being the only operator spinning the 10 day myth, as BT Wholesale say similar too. The DLM system does eventually relent is line conditions improve, so the advice is if ordering VDSL2 to ensure your wiring is at its best before the first day you start with the service.
As has been pointed out previously the speed guarantees are nothing to do with what speeds you get for downloads from various places on the Internet, so be under no illusion that "Sky Fibre Max with our minimum download Speed Guarantee of 55Mb" will always give you download speeds of faster than 55 Mbps they just guarantee the connection speed between the Sky Q hub and the DSLAM in the Openreach street cabinet.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the Sky average speed for its Fibre Max service, which has only just dropped from 60 Mbps to 57 Mbps will it climb when Ofcom does its once a year analysis in November.
We have included the summary for the Sky FTTC speed test results from July 2017 below, and as yet there is no evidence of group of customers on an up to 52 Mbps product, but clearly this is something we will be keeping an eye on in the next few months.