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Sky set to launch cap-free fibre broadband

From Friday, people can sign up for an internet-and-phone package with top download speeds of 40Mbps and unmetered usage, providing they live within range of Sky's fibre broadband service
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Sky is set to introduce a fibre-based broadband package that promises download speeds of up to 40Mbps and comes without a fair usage cap on traffic.

Sky van

From Friday, people can sign up for an internet-and-phone package with top download speeds of 40Mbps and unmetered usage. Image credit: Sky

The ISP said at the end of January that it planned to introduce its first fibre-based bundle in April. From Friday, it will do just that, by opening up online registration to potential customers for the Sky Fibre Unlimited internet-and-phone package.

"Sky Fibre Unlimited is now available to customers for £20 a month when purchasing Sky Talk and line rental. Customers in a fibre network coverage area can now access download speeds of up to 40Mbps with a totally unlimited product that has no usage caps," the company said in a statement.

The broadband service is available to 30 percent of UK homes, Sky said, but did not specify where. The number of locations will grow over time as BT Openreach continues its fibre rollout programme, the company added. BT is hoping to get to 10 million premises before the end of 2012.

To get the fibre service, customers will need to sign up for a Sky Talk calling plan and a Sky phone line. Sky Talk Freetime does not carry a charge, although there is a £5 option that includes unlimited free calls to landlines at any time of day. Sky line rental costs £12.25 per month, taking the total package price to at least £32.25 per month.

Sky's 40Mbps service goes up against the leading providers in fibre broadband, Virgin Media and BT, which have both begun upgrading their headline speeds. On its widely available packages, BT promises top download speeds of up to 76Mbps; Virgin Media maxes out at between 100 and 120Mbps. However, Sky is not expected to make similar upgrades or introduce other fibre packages anytime soon.

Where Sky could get an edge is with its 'unlimited' traffic promise. Most ISPs impose some sort of usage cap or traffic shaping to ensure availability of resources on the network for all users.

For example, some of BT's Infinity packages come with a monthly usage allowance of 40GB. Increasing the monthly price bumps those packages up to 'unlimited' usage, but with the caveat that peer-to-peer traffic (P2P) is speed-limited at certain times of the day. Virgin also recently introduced traffic shaping on its faster fibre broadband packages, and it operates an acceptable use policy at certain times of the day. 

On Wednesday, Be Broadband said it would have to delay its rollout of fibre products, and that it does not expect to be able to offer them widely until at least 2013. 

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