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Sky Hub too slow for fastest fibre broadband connections

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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.

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