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Sky Hub too slow for fastest fibre broadband connections

Andy Vandervell

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Sky Hub too slow for fastest fibre broadband connections

Update 19/07/13 at 18:05: Sky has now responded to our story. You can read its right to reply at the bottom of this story.

Tests conducted by TrustedReviews have revealed the Sky Hub router, which is provided to all Sky Broadband and Sky Fibre customers, is too slow to support the company's fastest fibre package over a Wi-Fi connection.

The tests, conducted in identical controlled conditions to all other routers we test, show that at a distance of two metres with line of sight, the Sky Hub's measured Wi-Fi speed is 46.4Mbps, a long way short of the Sky Broadband Unlimited Pro package that offers 'up to 76Mbps'.

Given the UK average for 'up to 76Mbps' fibre connections (as measured by Ofcom in November 2012) is 62.7Mbps, that means a good number of 'up to 76Mbps' customers would have to connect to the router using an Ethernet cable to use their connection's full speed, or buy a third-party router to get the maximum speed over Wi-Fi.

Sky launched its 'up to 76Mbps' package in April 2012. A customer who signed up for the package at that time and used the Sky Hub alone will have spent £140 extra in 14 months over the 'up to 38Mbps' package, which costs £20 a month.

Up to 69% slower Wi-Fi than new Super Hub from Virgin

In the same test, the Virgin Media new Super Hub managed 80.8Mbps on the 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi band, 42.6% faster than the Sky Hub. In subsequent tests from 10 metres with line of sight, the new Super Hub was 40% faster (68Mbps vs 40.8Mbps), and it was a huge 59.4% faster (25.6Mbps vs 10.4Mbps) than the Sky Hub when tested from 13 metres with two intervening walls.

Moreover, as the Virgin Media new Super Hub supports the 5.0GHz wireless band in addition to the standard 2.4GHz band (the Sky Hub only supports 2.4GHz), our measured top speed was actually 140Mbps from two metres. Over 13 metres with two intervening walls Virgin Media's new Super Hub is 69.8% faster (34.4Mbps vs 10.4Mbps).

Each router was tested in the same property using the same PC and from the same locations. Wi-Fi transfer speeds were tested using a dual-band Wi-Fi laptop copying data from a wired Netgear ReadyNAS NVX.

You can read our full Sky Hub review for more detail on our testing and how it compares to the new Super Hub and third-party routers like the TrustedReviews Recommended Linksys EA6700.

Comment: Sky needs to upgrade its router

Andy Vandervell, deputy editor

Andy VandervellThe fact that anyone on Sky's 'up to 76Mbps' package can't use those speeds using the Wi-Fi router supplied is bad enough. The fact Sky has been selling people this package since April 2012 is ridiculous.

While you can remedy this by connecting directly to the router using an Ethernet cable, that simply isn't good enough.

Customers prefer Wi-Fi for obvious reasons, and the fact that rival providers and third-party manufacturers provide consumers with routers that can support these speeds is evidence enough that the Sky Hub is not fit for purpose for some Sky customers.

Are you an unhappy Sky Hub user? Read our best router round-up for better options.

******UPDATE BEGINS******

Update: Official Sky response

Quote from Sky:

“The Sky Hub actually has the capability offer speeds up to and 150mb, so it’s more than capable of delivering our top fibre speeds of 80mb. This has been tested and confirmed by an third-party in multiple independent tests. As a result, it’s entirely wrong to suggest that the Sky Hub is “too slow” for our fastest fibre product. Many of our customers currently enjoy speeds of up to 80mb, which is evidence enough to disprove Trusted Review’s comment.

“As a range of factors can impact broadband speeds, including distance from the exchange and local wiring, we have offered to send an engineer round to understand why Trusted Reviews received the speeds they did during their test. It’s conceivable that there could be a problem with the specific router used, in which case we’d happily supply another one. We hope Trusted Reviews will take us up on our offer.”

Quote Ends

We thank Sky for its response. We have yet to see any evidence that the Sky Hub supports 150Mbps network transfer rates in real world conditions. We'd like to reiterate that our concern is not Sky's ability to deliver 'up to 76Mbps' broadband, but the performance of the Sky Hub's Wi-Fi when tested in real world conditions over a local network. We welcome the opportunity to test additional Sky Hubs.

dpanch_89

July 17, 2013, 2:56 pm

more reason to stay with Virgin then. Plus as a student, i don't need to pay for line rental which is often overlooked when the prices for internet are advertised.

Tech Hackular

July 17, 2013, 3:04 pm

Virgin's catch up service is nowhere near as good as Sky's.

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2013, 3:21 pm

In fairness the old Super Hub had a myriad of reliability and performance problems but the new Super Hub is a very commendable improvement.

Ideally no-one would use ISP supplied routers, they're like bundled headphones!

Chris

July 17, 2013, 4:34 pm

When the router finally gets delivered of course. Sky activated my broadband on 10th July and there's still no sign of my Hub!

toboev

July 17, 2013, 4:42 pm

I wish they would allow customers to use their own kit, right down to the cable modem at the wall. The strangely named Fritz!box make an integrated DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem/router/dect/VoiP box. That would save me several PSU in the wall, and do everything I need. But, much like the old Post Office, they insist only their own product can be connected at the wall.

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2013, 4:48 pm

Yes I'm with you there, but I suspect the demand for this is too small. The problem has actually gotten worse as well... 5/10 years ago ISPs openly offered their connection info so you could use your own router, now they try to push their own equipment. This is fine, but a true modem mode should also be a prerequisite on every ISP router sold (and ideally it would be a simple button on back!)

greycounciller

July 18, 2013, 7:36 am

Though a intermediate and not a novice user, I recentley migrated from Be Broadband over to Sky on the 16th of this month and have been given one of these routers.
In everyway, so far, it outperforms the previous one I had and even the range is greater extending right out to my garden.
In my everyday day to day use it seems better.

I stream and play music effortlessly all over my house, and with better signal strength than my last.
What should I be noticing thats bad with regards perfomance?

diddler

July 18, 2013, 7:51 am

Sky short changing customers is hardly exclusive. I am still a bit peeved about the increased subscription fees just so they can play games with BT. I would think though they will be upgrading this router to support the ac standard soon and if you moan you could probably get an upgrade for free. That is how it usually works.

Paul Morris

July 18, 2013, 7:56 am

I think you are totally missing the point. Yes, everything works. But it doesn't work at the advertised speeds.

The router is a bottleneck - using the Sky Hub's Wi-Fi, you can not utilise the internet speed/bandwidth that you are paying a premium price for. Therefore the customers are being short changed, and these routers are not fit for purpose.

andyvan

July 18, 2013, 8:13 am

As Paul Morris says, the issue is that the Wi-Fi performance of the router is effectively a bottleneck if you're on Sky's fastest available broadband package. It's not an issue for ordinary Broadband customers, however.

greycounciller

July 18, 2013, 8:20 am

Yes, I'm an ordinary Sky Broadband and Home Phone customer with absolutely NO intention of any other Sky products and find the WiFi performance more than adequate.
Maybe my service previously was so bad that this one just seems very good as it works.

TotallydubbedHD

July 18, 2013, 8:44 am

Hi there,

I recently joined Sky with their 40-10 fibre package. It is too early for me to comment on reliability of service and the reliability of the wireless hub SR101, as I've only been with them less than a week. But one thing I CAN comment on is how Sky use MER services to lock the router.

I find the fact that Sky using a locked down router, preventing its own users to use other routers is very Apple-esk. Highly disappointed in Sky for this.
If it wasn't for DD-WRT (flashing firmware on routers) and my patience to go through a heck load of router settings and whatnot, I would have called for a cancellation of their services and taken the £15 installation fee on the chin.

This thread is not about Sky's lack of care for its customers, but about its routers. So before I ramble on, I'll say that ever since I installed the TP LINK, I've seen increased latencies, better wireless ranges and more so a router that's completely unlocked and in my total control.

Sky gets 3/10 for their Sky Hub in my opinion. For a 21st century router, and fibre optic connections up to 76mbps, it is shocking to see Sky providing such horrible routers.

alex mason

July 18, 2013, 8:58 am

Isn't this exactly the same as all other providers?

I have plusnet and their 80/20 service. The router they supply is good for about 50 mbits max over wifi. If I want the full beans 80 mbits then I need to use ethernet. I would imagine any other provider who supplies a cheap as chips router to be the same.

Also they're all 2.4 GHz and if you live in an apartment, especially with lots of people who are with BT (and thus their routers are also broadcasting the FON network as well as their own private network), you'll find every single channel absolutely chock a block! = higher noise, poorer performance.

Gordon Kelly

July 18, 2013, 12:53 pm

It certainly should be - especially for the Fibre providers. I think it is time we took a look the PlusNet router!

Virgin's new Super Hub tops 140Mbit over 5GHz and BT claims the Home Hub 4 (which we are reviewing soon) can do the same. Fibre providers should have responsibility to provide equipment capable of providing the speeds that customers pay for. It is the "up to" argument all over again.

Gordon Kelly

July 18, 2013, 12:58 pm

Thanks for the comment. We're certainly not fans of restricting third party modems, but it has become increasingly common in recent years. I think with this in mid a true 'modem mode' (as Virgin Media offers) should be available on all routers so even if they must be used a third party wireless router can be easily attached without digging into settings.

We're getting the TP Link 802.11ac router in soon so we'll also see how it clocks up against others. It seems this topic certainly has hit home with many readers and needs further uncovering.

Gordon Kelly

July 18, 2013, 12:59 pm

In fairness, their pricing is a subjective matter compared to the black and white facts of the Sky Hub's shortcomings. We're keen to see put the pressure on Sky to address this soon.

Gordon Kelly

July 18, 2013, 1:01 pm

Paul is spot on. Regular broadband users will find they can get the Internet speeds they pay for if it is for a 38Mbit or lower package - though the range is poor compared to most third party routers and even routers from most ISPs. (we have not tested the router supplied by Be but if it is worse than the Sky Hub that's a shocking state of affairs)

The problem is for Sky's premium Fibre customers on speeds of up to 76Mbit who cannot receive these speeds using the Sky Hub.

Gordon Kelly

July 18, 2013, 1:02 pm

True, though TV packages don't have to be taken with broadband.

Paul Morris

July 18, 2013, 1:12 pm

greycounciller - This article is describing problems for users of Sky's high-speed (and higher cost) Fibre-Optic broadband service 'Sky Broadband Unlimited Pro'. The problem lies in the fact that users cannot take full advantage of that service using the supplied router.

Because you are an 'ordinary' Sky user, only paying for their standard speed service, this article isn't relevant to you. However, it is a problem for others, who aren't getting what they pay for.

Paul Morris

July 18, 2013, 1:16 pm

Precisely - it seems to be just another way for the providers to ensure that you are able to utilise as little of their precious bandwidth as possible.

TotallydubbedHD

July 18, 2013, 4:51 pm

Nice one! That should be pretty darn beastly - problem will be though, getting something compatible enough to test it (wirelessly)

Gordon Kelly

July 18, 2013, 4:55 pm

We have wireless ac bridges and professional grade wired NAS so we'll find its limits ;)

TotallydubbedHD

July 18, 2013, 4:58 pm

haha nice one!

aedwards

July 24, 2013, 11:50 am

To be fair to PlusNet, they don't stop you using your own router if you want to. You have the option of not getting a "free" router when you sign up.

I think they have to balance the performance against the cost. It would be no good for me, but anything better than her Thomson DSL router would be wasted on my mum.

Sky actively try and stop you using your own hardware - it's their router or nothing. Makes you wonder what they're hiding.

Andy Mitchell

July 29, 2013, 7:52 pm

Almost every bit of Wireless N equipment I have will only sync with the sky router at 72mb max. Both phones and my netbook will only connect at 72mb max. Thankfully I only have the up to 40mb package but I do agree that their router is rubbish. Wireless range is appalling. I live in a flat and I lose the signal going from my bedroom to my bathroom!

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