back to article Greedy Sky admits: We crippled broadband with TOO MANY users

Sky has confessed it has overloaded its broadband service by putting far too many Brits onto its network. The media giant told The Register that it has run out of capacity in certain corners of the UK, which has knackered its users' internet connectivity at peak times. Subscribers to Sky Broadband Unlimited in Doncaster, North …


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  1. Jim Willsher

    Anyone who RELIES on broadband at home, but is stupid enough to choose Sky as their provider, deserves what they get. Want a decent service you can rely on then get Zen or A&A. Yes they are more expensive but...ummmm.....there's a reason for that.

    No sympathy whatsoever. Pay for a Trabant, expect it to break.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That was my exact thought, if you are working from home you need an ISP that serves as "business class"

      Not a race to the bottom residential ISP

    2. James 51

      There are plenty of towns in the UK that don't have a range of providers. It's pretty much BT and whoever is reselling access to their lines. When I moved to a new address sky was slower than a dial up modem. They did say their fibre which was six months away from rolling out but would only guarantee speeds that slower than using my 3g phone as a modem. In the end had to go with BT fibre to get decent service but that is in large part because at least 95% of the houses in my area use sky.

      1. Jim Willsher

        I'm connected to an exchange that's a shed serving just 138 properties; some city exchanges serve 20,000 properties. But I have an extensive choice of providers. Of course they all use BT backhaul, but the service (Zen in my case) is second to none.

        So I'll never have the choices of Virgin or Fibre, but you just have to make the best selection from the choices available.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "There are plenty of towns in the UK that don't have a range of providers. "

        Utter and complete rubbish.

        Thanks to the way BT is forced to operate, *everyone* who can get BT or Sky ADSL can get ADSL from one of tens of ISPs. Including Zen and Andrews and Arnold plus a few of the other "top shelf" ISPs.

        I am in a village of 2000 people, I've been with a "quality" ISP ever since ADSL was made available here. Now I'm on fibre with the same brilliant ISP. My exchange does not have any other ADSL equipment than BT's.

        Availability is not the excuse as to why people have to go with cheap and nasty ISPs - indeed, anyone who can get Sky Unlimited have to be on an exchange where Sky has installed their equipment and is therefore likely to have other LLU based ISPs, so that only improves my argument! We're not the US where only one or two companies are available.

    3. Shadowthrone

      One particularly frustrated customer in Doncaster had this to say:

      Internet is completely unusable, so this is the THIRD night in a row that I am unable to fulfil my contractually obligated working from home via the internet, so a third night's overtime lost. Not only is this a pain, it's actually losing me wages


      This is actually not covered in the T&Cs of a residential broadband line. Infact using a residential line for business purposes is a direct breach of the T&Cs. While the person above is probably only doing some work from home and not using it for a business they are likely fine, they have no leg to stand on for lost income by being unable to connect for work. In this case Sky is safe to effectively say "oh boo hoo, you cannot work from home. Tough luck, not our problem."....fixing their overloaded network and contention issues, however, is their problem.

      While working at BT for 7yrs the number of small businesses trying to use a residential BB package for the business was staggering. Any time someone got indignant on the phone with me about losing money blah blah blah, I would remind them it is a residential line and using it for their business was a breach of their T&Cs. If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the business product.

      1. Captain Scarlet
        Paris Hilton

        I always found small companies were very high maintenance, especially the ones who scream down the phone and refuse to believe you and when you fix their problem don't say thank you for going beyond what you were supposed to support (Waves fist).

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          always found small companies were very high maintenance

          and focused excessively on saving penny's.

          Which leads many to go with consumer/High St. solutions rather than business solutions, because that is all they know. On the other hand as a small IT business I do envy those who have the benefit of a sugar daddy VC who is prepared to pour in money until such time that they manage to work out how to make money...

      2. stu 4


        "If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price."

        1. Annihilator

          Re: uhu

          "If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price."

          But with the ability to recoup any losses, yes. You don't usually pay for a better product, you pay for a better service and the protections that brings.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: uhu

          As an independent, I always advise against going directly to BT for business broadband, but instead go to a third-party, as although they use BT for the line etc. BT is obliged through SLA to provide a quality service, something they are not for their own direct customers...

        3. theblackhand

          Re: uhu

          "If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price."

          Check the differences between a Business Broadband SLA and a residential SLA.

          From memory, residential is an engineer will respond within 3 days and repaired within 14 days while business broadband is an engineer will repair within 24 hours (or 8 hours with "premium". I'm not including compensation/refunds as they aren't worth a great deal if your business is down.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: uhu

            But he doesn't have a fault, he is a victim of massive contention due to Sky being cheap-skates.

        4. richard 7

          Re: uhu

          ""If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price" disconnect them, break the line, arse up the bills, and finally to put the nail in the coffin, give then a businesshub.

      3. Colin Millar

        Do get real

        He's not running a business - he's working from home - a pretty reasonable requirement in the year 2013.

        Hopefully ISPs are unlikely to be shortsighted enough to think that such a jobsworth response is going to keep them in business.

        1. Annihilator

          Re: Do get real

          "He's not running a business - he's working from home - a pretty reasonable requirement in the year 2013."

          Actually he's contractually obliged to work from home, which means that his company should be contractually obliging him with the means to do that. At my old company, that meant a £50/month DSL connection, which was certainly not a residential service. Added to that a 3G dongle was provided.

          Screaming about losing £100s or £1000s when only paying £15 or less for the infrastructure to do it? I'd stop listening at around the 3rd syllable I think.

          1. Colin Millar

            Re: Do get real

            Maybe he doesn't work for your old company.

            Maybe his business (like many businesses) works on a shoestring budget and is taking advantage of modern tech to reduce costs.

            Maybe £50 per month and a dongle for X staff would be way beyond its budget and make the difference between being a business and not being a business.

            Maybe the answer to local traders who complain when the council reduces parking spaces for their customers is "build your own car park like Waitrose".

            1. Annihilator

              Re: Do get real

              "Maybe his business (like many businesses) works on a shoestring budget and is taking advantage of modern tech to reduce costs." and increase risk.

              In that case, they've massively messed up the risk/cost assessment. Maybe they should understand the cost of actually being able to do business and recognising that if they need someone to work out of hours at home that a cheap broadband connection with (as good as) zero SLA is just not going to cut it.

              Complain all you like, but it costs 33p per day for a reason. To put it in context, a 1st class stamp costs about twice that, and you wouldn't rely on it to deliver a business critical document within 1-2 days.

          2. M Mouse
            Thumb Up

            Re: Do get real

            Anyone either running a business, or working for a business and needing to work from home, such as this Doncaster user, needs also to consider alternatives, whether LLU or via a mobile network. It's really not that costly to have 15 GB/month with Three and use their wireless router for home use to 'share' the USB dongle. No guarantee with LLU that somethiing like a digger won't break all connections from the exchange, or a power fault at the exchange won't lose all connections, so a mobile network backup seems best.

            That was how, after moving home, I continued to run as if nothing had happened (while Primus got the line for calls, and my broadband from Plus.Net was set up once I knew the new number {previous occupants took their number with them some 500m to a block of flats}). I used Three's data network for 4 years and only cancelled last September because Fibre was due... sadly, Openreach delayed launching it from Sept 2012 to May 2013 where I am, but tethering still works, should my line be down for more than a few hours, and 2-4 Mbps is fine for my e-mail and general needs.

            The deal I had was fairly good... 8 quid a month for 15 GB of data (and I was often able to get to 95% or higher!

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Do get real

              "and only cancelled last September because Fibre was due... sadly, Openreach delayed launching it from Sept 2012 to May 2013"

              You did see the recent ASA determination against BT for misleading advertising of fttc availability?

          3. Roland6 Silver badge

            @Annihilator Re: Do get real

            >Actually he's contractually obliged to work from home, which means that his company should be contractually obliging him with the means to do that.

            Probably in the past, but now we're in the brave new world of BYOD ....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do get real

          Exactly, it's like saying you should be on a business mobile tariff to be able to use your phone for the occasional business call.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            @Anonymous Coward Re: Do get real

            The key difference between mobile phone and broadband agreements is that no distinction is made between social and business usage. You basically have a business contract because of the extra (largely administrative) features it gives you.

            Similarly WiFi hot spots don't distinguish between usage types, the service is "as is".

          2. Annihilator

            Re: Do get real

            "Exactly, it's like saying you should be on a business mobile tariff to be able to use your phone for the occasional business call."

            No, it's like saying that you can do all the business calls you like on your phone, but you can't claim loss of earnings on it should it not work one day.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Business broadband

        Would that be the one with 28 day response and a massive penalty payment of up to 1 months broadband rental? The one that cost 3 times as much for a worse service? Been there done that.

        NTL were not as arrogant, but no more efficient.

        As above I recommend Zen, they unlike NTL & BT are normally interested in fixing a fault efficiently and in good time.

        Plusnet weren't bad either.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Business broadband

          "Plusnet weren't bad either."

          Given they're a 100% BT-owned company and have been for a while, is that claim still valid?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Business broadband

          >Plusnet weren't bad either.

          But are now part of BT... Not sure the legendary service has been maintained.

          1. Mark Scott

            Re: Business broadband

            I've been with them for years at a couple of different locations. No complaints.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Business broadband

            It has, I can assure you. Plusnet are as good as they have always been, despite being owned by BT.

            Infact since getting inbed with BT, my connection is improved significantly, and they are often offered up trials of new tech eventually destined for the main BT customer-base.

            Plusnet have some great fibre trials.


      5. Derezed


        "While working at BT for 7yrs the number of small businesses trying to use a residential BB package for the business was staggering. Any time someone got indignant on the phone with me about losing money blah blah blah, I would remind them it is a residential line and using it for their business was a breach of their T&Cs. "

        I know, how dare those ungrateful fuckers demand a service that they have paid for (Internet that doesn't just die suddently because some fat fingered BT engineer [oh sorry 'Open Reach'] got Greggs pasty dirt in the exchange or twisted another copper pair round your connection). The audacity!

        I was once a BT customer...never, ever, ever, ever again. Even if they offered free internet. Maybe that's why the company you worked for is such a festering turd/ blot on the technological landscape. Remember those 'indignant' people were paying customers.

      6. sabba
        Paris Hilton

        "move to the BusinessBB"

        ...which, from my experience of BT as both a residential and business customer, was equally as shit in terms of quality of service but was more expensive.

        I'm not a lawyer but I suspect that you're hardly breaking the T&Cs using the broadband for business purposes so long as your usage lies within the fair usage bounds - although I guess you're right, you wouldn't have a claim for lost income. You'd need to clearly define business in this context - by your definition, someone using E-bay to buy and sell products for profit would be in breach. An altogether interesting area of law.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Broadbeans provider

      The funny thing is, how many consumers who choose a broadband provider because it's suspiciously cheap without caring about the quality, don't look twice at supermarket own-brand goods because they prefer to pay extra for a brand they can trust?

    5. AndrueC Silver badge

      The supplier isn't the issue (although actually Sky have a surprisingly good reputation). The issue is having your wages dependant on residential broadband. At the very least you should be paying for a business package and preferably two connections from different ISPs. Personally I'd go with a landline business solution and a wireless solution as backup. The chances of both being completely out at the same time is pretty remote.

      But of course if your business is dependant on internet connectivity then a leased line is better. Most of those come with SLAs and don't have capacity issues. Of course they cost more than your average broadband solution. Funny that :)

      1. sabba

        You assume of course that all home workers earn good money...

        ...perhaps a business package is beyond his salary means. Not all home workers are high paid IT professionals.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It will get worse.

    7. N2

      Couldnt agree more

      Pay peanuts, expect monkeys?

      Incidentally, IDNet is pretty good.

      The only problem in about 6 years , I called them & spoke to someone who said, yes they were working on a problem and it would be fixed within an hour. about 30 minutes later, I got a call to say it was all working.

      1. Steven Raith
        Thumb Up

        Re: Couldnt agree more, @N2, 1824

        I am a fan of IDnet, they're a good bunch and I can't recall any time I've had any bandwidth/shaping/etc issues - even right now, in peak time, I've downloaded a Linux ISO (no, really), at 5.5-6MB/sec, on a line rated at approx 60mb - not going to grumble with that, pretty decent when you take routing, packet loss, and other HTTP overheads into account..

        I also like the fact that if you do have to call them up, you mention you are using a Draytek, and they automatically drop into SysAdmin mode, and are more than happy to get down to the nitty gritty without worrying about whether you have checked your microfilters (back in the ADSL days, natch) etc - they assume you have a degree of competence, which is refreshingly good.

        Costs a bit, and has (fairly decent, admittedly) bandwidth caps, but well worth it for a good service from a technical, and customer service POV. Must admit, I found Be* to be pretty good too in the same respect when I was down south, and would have gone with the again had they had a card in the exchange up here.

        It's not a business line though, and if I were forced to WFH, I'd be getting one. At least that way I can say I've done what I can to ensure business continuity.

        Point is, quality costs. Yes, up to a point you can't get perfect service from any supplier (too many variables) but you can get very good service from some.

        Steven R

    8. richard 7

      All Fairness

      Sky make this abundantly clear and will hand off commercial customers to the company that provides their service. If you say its for business use they will refuse to provide the service and they are not only very clear about this but helpful about finding you someone else.

    9. Conor Turton

      Never had anything other than virtually full throughput in the 18 months I've been with them. Even signed up to FTTC just before Xmas.

    10. SteveastroUk
      Thumb Up

      Zen Internet. The best. Absolutely no-one else comes near them for reliability and service

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most people

    Figured this one out years ago, it's been creaking under the strain of numbers for ages.

    Add that to their shoddy router, and policy of not allowing you to run your own kit and it's not a very attractive offer from Sky.

    1. Sampler

      Re: Most people

      I had Sky broadband for a day exactly for that reason. I got an offer, six months three and then the ongoing price being half what I pay Be* it seemed too good to be true - it was.

      The naff little sagem router they gave me look like it came out of a kinda surprise. I googled how to dump the firmware to get the login details I needed to use my own router, an N-Spec wifi with gigabit switch (mobile broadband's ace) to no avail so I called them.

      Ten minutes on the phone to a customer service monkeh asking for my PPPOA details (or whatever they were) - no, not the router login details, I was informed you're not allowed to use your own device "for better customer service" - I was only calling customer service because they were stopping me doing what I wanted!

      It honestly had never occurred to me they'd pull such a dick move, especially as I'd been with Be* for so long, they have a similar policy, they issue a relatively bland router but they also let you use your own. You call customer services, they ask are you using the Be* router, you tell them no and they tell you to plug it in and call back - why couldn't Sky do that?

      It has the same benefits to the company of a generalised platform so they don't have to hire intelligent people for the call centre, just those capable of clicking responses on a screen and reading out the next but it has a vastly greater end user experience.

      I asked to be put through to cancellations, which they were more than happy to do as it was something they could actually do and put down as an achievement for the day. Cancelled not only the internet but the phone and television (was moving over to the phone with the internet, had the TV for a few years).

      Called Be* back up, sobbed it was all such a big mistake and they not only welcomed be back but gave me two months free to sooth the pain. Can't recommend them highly enough either - the service when I've contacted them with enquiries has been superb, never had any peak slowdown (though I guess it's subjective form exchange to exchange) and not had any problems - even used it for remote working that I had a job for eighteen months, two days at home a week without any trouble.

  3. EddieD

    Small Kudos

    They're admitting overselling their capacity, unlike others who claim "unlimited" but put caps on your usage so the internet slows down to a crawl, just when you (and everyone else) wants to use it most :)

    ISPs should stop playing the numbers game, set a "speed limit" which they can provide, and then work in background to improve infrastructure, and then, when it's ready for us greedy buggers (ISPspeak for folk who want what they pay for), upgrade the speed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'One user of the ADSL service went public to report that his or her download speeds dropped to 2Mbps:'

    2Mbps? Where do I sign up?

    1. The Real Tony Smith

      2 MBits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      'One user of the ADSL service went public to report that his or her download speeds dropped to 2Mbps:'

      2Mbps? Where do I sign up?


      People where I live would form pitchfork waving mobs for 2 MBits

  5. Anonymous Coward

    You get what you pay for

    You get what you pay for. Cheap broadband means something has to be squeezed somewhere be it network capacity or poor tech support.

  6. JeeBee

    Hey, at least it works...

    2mbps? That's about 2mbps more than I get from my 60mbps Virgin Cable broadband service.

    And as for the person losing wages - if it's that important, they buy a business DSL package, don't cheap out.

    1. Wize

      Re: Hey, at least it works...

      BT have a response about phone lines. Residential takes longer to fix than commercial with the latter being something they would compensate you for during extended lack of service.

      Same goes for broadband. NEED it for work? Get the business package.

      Wonder what he does that can't be downloaded and performed offline.

      1. Natalie Gritpants

        Wonder what he does

        I'd guess BT Broadband customer support. Well. you wouldn't want to run that on the BT network would you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ""we'll never slow your Unlimited broadband down, even at peak times"

    ... it's all the other users not under-investment! ;)

    1. Silverburn

      Small print: Peak hours is now defined as 03:34am to 05:34am

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Losing wages - I'd guess in the Tee's and Cee's there is something prohibiting commercial use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I doubt it

    2. Jim Willsher

      I doubt working from home equates to commercial use anyway. Hosting a retail website probably would, but even then I doubt Sky would object. Mind you, you wouldn't get far with no static IP etc.

    3. Hakster

      Tees and Cees

      There is - a company I used to work for found that the remote access had "problems" when people were connecting through their Sky routers. On contacting Sky, they advised basically "tough - if your staff are using it to access a work VPN then that qualifies as commercial use, and we don't allow that on our home connections".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tees and Cees

        Haha, okay, I stand corrected:

        "Sky Broadband is for private use by you and members of your household only. It must not be used for any commercial or business purpose."

        That said, I skimmed through O2's, Orange's, and Plusnet's T&Cs, and there was nothing like this in there, so maybe it's limited to shisters like $ky. Mind you, I never liked them anyway, so fuck em.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Tees and Cees

          Yeah I would like someone enforcing "prohibiting commercial use".

          Basically it means "shite service, do not use for reliable ops"

        2. MonkeyBot

          Re: "It must not be used for any commercial or business purpose."

          That's fairly broad - wouldn't emailing a CV for a job application be covered by that?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            @MonkeyBot Re: "It must not be used for any commercial or business purpose."

            >wouldn't emailing a CV for a job application be covered by that?

            Being pedantic, I would apply the HMRC line regarding what is/isn't commercial/business usage (and hence an allowable expense). So emailing a CV for a permanent job isn't a business purpose, whereas emailing a CV for a contract is.

            Similar distinctions apply to eBay and Amazon marketplace usage...

            So we can presume that a large number of subscribers to domestic service providers are regularly breeching their T's&C's of service. I therefore conclude that Sky et al turn a blind eye to such usage until such time as it is drawn to their attention.

        3. sabba

          Re: Tees and Cees

          The definition of business use is I think where they come unstuck. Does this mean that you can't, for example, use your Sky Broadband connection to trade items on e-Bay for commercial profit? Also, does accessing your employer's systems class as business purpose? I am not sure they'd be able to enforce this from a legal perspective. Although it'd probably cover them if you were hosting web-sites, VMs or other servers with access provided over the BB connection.

  9. Mark McNeill

    Did OK for a long while, but pants now.

    SWMBO is addicted to Sky TV, so when we moved I signed up for their broadband: for six years or so it was cheap and almost perfectly reliable at 12-13Mbps, but since Christmas it dropped to less than 2Mbps. As it happens, BT Extra Wizzo Fibre has recently become available: so in a month or so I'll be able to moan about that instead.

    Spawn of Satan because Murdoch. Yes, we're still paying him for the telly. Yes, I am ashamed.

  10. Thomas Whipp

    My exchange isnt affected...

    ...apparently. However I've been having exactly the same issues, new BT connection due in just over a week now.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    an underlining increase

    as icon

  12. Shark? what shark?

    Need your broadband to earn a crust?

    Shell out the dosh for a proper business product. You get support and SLAs and all that boring but useful stuff that you don't need for torrents. Plus when it goes down the engineers tend to turn up in hours rather than days.

    Here endeth the smugness.

    Of course I no longer practice what I preach. Not since the pub got free wi-fi.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Need your broadband to earn a crust?

      In *lots" of situations getting business broadband would be the right move.

      However, here I think the person complaining was talking about doing some overtime work so this makes me suspect:

      1) he is an employee so doesnt have the "tax benefits" from shelling out on business broadband.

      2) the work he would need it for is sporadic and far from guaranteed.

      If these two are correct, then I would be very reluctant to shell out for the "business service" (which for me would be around £20 a month for a 24 month contract and still only provide around 7meg per second max).

  13. Jack Project

    I pay next to sod all for my Sky Broadband and get a steady 9-12Mbps for that price with the occasional blip due to line noise. Can't really complain truth be told.

    I was really worried about it but it was so cheap as to be a virtual no brainer. Streaming is really good and it does get some hammer.

    I use a VPN to work to do bits and bobs but I would never rely on it to be a business solution. The bloke in the article that does is an idiot.

    1. Wyrdness

      My Sky broadband (FTTC) typically gets around 30Mbps off-peak. At peak times, it can be a bit slower at around 16-24Mbps, but still nothing to complain about.

      There are a huge number of factors that can affect the speed of normal ADSL lines, but the quality and distance of the copper wires make a huge difference. Even the type of phone wiring in your home can affect your speeds more than you'd imagine. So whilst ISPs are sometimes to blame, it's often factors outside their control that can cause slow broadband speeds.

  14. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    My parents have Sky Broadband (I advised them not to do it, but there you go) the best download speed they get doesn't even get to 2Mbps. Before you make the mistake of assuming they live in the sticks I can assure you that they live in a city centre complete with 1 postcode. Neighbours who aren't on Sky are reporting close to 8Mbps.

  15. Dave Perry

    Bad experience

    A friend was having trouble with his sky-issued netgear router a few years back, the 2nd one he'd been sent. And they wouldn't send out another. So he got a tech person on the phone who thought they were 'it' (like murdoch really), put them onto me, and I'd already done all the checks they went through before picking up the phone. My hate for anything to do with murdoch is great, so enjoyed verbally chastising said tech til they gave in. For my sins I'm stuck with KC (Hull-ite), and would far rather have a BT line with O2 broadband which no-one I know of has ever complained about.

  16. RonWheeler

    Just whine

    ' Internet is completely unusable, so this is the THIRD night in a row that I am unable to fulfil my contractually obligated working from home via the internet, '

    Don't worry, just whine like a b1tch to your work IT Dept. Their problem. Our lot all do - apparently it is our fault they bought a free-with-your-mobile-phone package and live in the ar53 end of nowhere. We should drive round to your house,and fix your home wifi connection too.


    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: Just whine

      We have exactly the same problem. Some user complains their connection from home is really slow, or VPN won't connect and it's somehow our fault even when no other user is having the same problem. The fact that their contract for home working clearly states that they can only work from home if they have the necessary connectivity does not seem to have any effect when they complain to their manager who complains in turn to the IT manager. Then some poor sod from the helpdesk has to make a two hour round trip to discover that they have an incredibly slow connection or worse still a router that does not allow VPN pass through connections. Every time that happens we have their manager on the phone saying that we should provide them with an ADSL router that works, even though these idiots get an allowance to fund their broadband. We've also found ISPs who don't allow VPN connections, but somehow that's our fault too even though it's made perfectly clear in the contract for home working that they must provide their own connectivity which allows VPN connections at a stipulated minimum downstream and upstream speed.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Just whine

        One of the big problems with deploying enterprise home working (to say 500+ staff) is the broadband connection. In the early days (ie. when broadband was just about internet access) it was okay for the company to impose it's choice of business broadband service provider on employees. However, once Sky, Virgin and now BT started offering additional services over their connection this became problemmatic and potentially costly. Basically typically a house had only one phone line and hence ADSL connection; installing a second line for more than a few staff quickly becomes a major challenge particularly for those who will infrequently work from home.

        For several reasons I would like to see OFTEL require all added-value service providers (such as Sky, Virgin and BT) be obliged to use a subscriber's preferred broadband supplier whether that be a residential or business ISP. This would mean that an employee/subscriber could upgrade their Sky/Virgin/BT package to include business broadband.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          @Roland6 Re: Just whine

          "Basically typically a house had only one phone line and hence ADSL connection; installing a second line for more than a few staff quickly becomes a major challenge particularly for those who will infrequently work from home"

          Before the days of ADSL that's exactly what our company did - pay for second phone lines for all of us who had to sometimes work from home. It may seem overkill now that people usually use ADSL over a single phone line, but the fact is, it's no more difficult to get a second line now than it was then.. In fact, as I'm sure many (like me) have gone from 2 phone lines back to one, it should be easier in what were more congested exchanges...

          1. Roland6 Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: @Roland6 Just whine

            @Jamie Jones

            I agree, in the mid 80's I had a leased-line installed to my home - for the MicroVax :))

            However one of the challenges with enterprise mobile/home working is what Exec's regard as being okay for a few "key" employees becomes a major cost (and deployment) hurdle when trying to deploy to 500+ users where not all will be frequent users of the service.

            The nice thing about the approach you outline is that there is no question that the second line is for business use (particularly if it is also locked down by a company supplied router/modem) and so can be expensed.

            Looking forward (being hopeful), I would of thought we weren't too far off having multiple services delivered to the home over a single cable.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Just whine

      Meh. IT departments just like to bitch. I've never really got a straight answer as to why my 70Mb/s FTTC connection can only suck data from our US based data centre at the equivalent of 9Mb/s. They got quite annoyed when I demonstrated that a test server set up by a colleague in the building next door was sending at the equivalent of 30Mb/s (pretty much maxing out the VPN pipe).

      And Gawd help anyone trying to copy lots of small files. There's got to be something wrong with Windows networking. 1000 files of 1MB will come down at an average of 250kB/s. A 1GB file will come down at 1.2MB/s.

      Anyway I solved my own complaint mostly. I zip the files onto a test machine (which curiously has no speed problems) then pull them from there. IT just closed the ticket and presumably went back to drinking coffee. I reckon there's a firewall or router somewhere that is running hot and they just don't care. Maybe that's what they brew the coffee on :-/

      1. RonWheeler

        Re: Just whine

        Why should they give a... ?

        The internet is not a dedicated pipe between your house and the office n the USA.

        Your problem.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: Just whine

          > The internet is not a dedicated pipe between your house and the office n the USA

          You work in IT don't you? You have that amazing inability to understand the complaint put to you while trotting out some random answer. Is it one of the Microsoft Certification courses? After all they are the experts in not quite understanding the problem but coming up with some random solution anyway.

          Try reading it again, numbnuts: Two machines, both within a hundred metres of each other on the same campus. Nominally on the same LAN. One is in a data centre, the other is just some VM created for test purposes. The test machine maxes out my VPN, the machine in the data centre transfers at a third the speed.

          What the fuck has that got to do with the Internet?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: AndrueC - Just whine


            I almost up voted your response post ( Tuesday 22nd January 2013 20:31 GMT) before I spotted your name on it and had to reread to understand what it was you were getting at. My conclusion is that you have no real understanding of enterprise networks...

            It is normal practise to only give access to significant bandwidth from systems within the datacentre, particularly if that connection is over a transatlantic leased line (£££'s). Additionally it is normal for only datacenter systems to actually have use of Gb Ethernet, whereas for general office access 100Mb is more than enough, but this traffic may well be shaped to ensure equal access particularly to core business systems and from other buildings.

            Similarly for external VPN connections, these will be routed through a remote access server of some description and similarly traffic profiled to prevent a user hogging bandwidth (remember your company is paying for the pipe from the Internet to their VPN gateway). You may also find that the US VPN has a different traffic profile set up to the UK one.

            As you point out one of the hosts is a test machine, which I suspect actually resides in the test network/environment and hence is subject to slightly different rules to your normal machine.

            For your information, at a client where we were having to regularly take electronic delivery of updates to an enterprise application (multiple 300MB+ tarballs), we solved our connection reliability problem and download speed/time by using one of the servers allocated to us in the datacenter to drag the distributions off the US supplier's website and then copied it across the internal network to our 'portacabin' which only had a 10mb connection - so we could install it in our dev environment ...

            So as you said "What the fuck has that got to do with the Internet?"

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: AndrueC - Just whine

              Reflecting on this point, there is one point which is to do with the Internet.

              Back in the 1990's (pre-DSL) remote access was either expensive ISDN (64kbps or 128 kbps) or 56kbps dial-up modem. With these devices users understood that their access was limited and hence worked accordingly. Even after DSL it has only really been since circa 2006 that hotel WiFi has enabled mobile users to gain access at speeds greater than 56kbps. Hence I suggest that the typical current user thinks that because their DSL is 'high speed' then all associated systems access should be at similar speeds, which as I pointed out above isn't the case.

  17. LinkOfHyrule

    The Sky's the limit!!!!

    And that limit is about 0.8Mbps

    b-boom tish groan etc

  18. Bod


    Pointed this out ages ago to many who bang on about "but they're truly unlimited". Was the same pre-throttle days with NTL, and same with any contended broadband provider. Even with a dedicated line you're still going to hit a bottleneck somewhere down the line.

    Thing I appreciate with ISPs is some plain honesty. Back in NTL days they just gave me cable whether it would actually work or not. Connection was unreliable, speeds poor. They'd shrug when you have problems and it was a constant battle with them. At least switching to a BT line they do a test and simply say "sorry you can't have X as your line is too crap". Got PlusNet via the line and they've been pretty honest and I can see a lot of detail about what goes on with their throttling. Throttling is not an evil if they're upfront about it and if I wanted to I can pay extra for unthrottled and just hit the contention instead but frankly I don't need it.

  19. Greg J Preece

    Friend of mine went with them. Sure, on paper it looked good: piss cheap and a no-throttling guarantee. There was one part of the advert that put me off, though: the word "Sky".

    Sure enough, his router now drops off the net completely several times a day, and he's had several long outages.

    Over here, on Titan ADSL, I've had one outage in 4 years (excepting their scheduled 3am upgrades that I happen to be awake for).

  20. damien c

    Lol this is the thing that all ADSL providers do.

    They can put up to say 200 people on a router within the switch and instead they throw over 2000 on it, because they no that everyone will not be wanting the full amount of there bandwidth all at once.

    Atleast with my Virgin connection I get my 100Mb all the time, it's just to bad I get crap gaming performance.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      > Atleast with my Virgin connection I get my 100Mb all the time, it's just to bad I get crap gaming performance.

      *Cough* - gaming is poor on VM because of the high jitter and guess what a prime cause of jitter is? VM is actually one of the worst ISPs for overloading its network.

  21. Andy 97
    Paris Hilton

    The differential cost for a well-run ISP.

    A previous employer demanded I claimed for [only] the cheapest provider I could get.

    Three outages later and one reoccurring problem; I managed to get them to pay slightly more for an ISP that knew their arse from their elbow.

    Surprise surprise, never had another outage.

    The cost differential?

    £10 a month.

    Paris because she knows that's it's not the size of the pipe, it's how you use it.

    1. southpacificpom

      Re: The differential cost for a well-run ISP.

      A lot of women prefer a fat pipe it seems...

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The differential cost for a well-run ISP.

      IF your employer requires you to work from home then you can claim the cost of a business broadband connection as expenses. If your employer doesn't permit you to expense the full amount actually paid out then you can include it in your tax return as an incurred expense that was reimbursed...

  22. Emmett Jenner

    business package

    Naa. Got BT's business package and they still give you all the same grief you'd normally get as a residential customer. If you want tech support they put you through to India. My business address is directly opposite the BT exchange where all the engineers keep their vans. It would have taken them longer to drive over than to walk. Still took them 29.5 days to come and install the analogue line for the broadband to go on. They disconnected me twice for alleged failed direct debits and on both occasions wouldn't reconnect me for 29.5 days... that was until I shouted at them. The connection goes down occasionally and isn't even that fast despite being connected to the first cabinet right next to their exchange. Zen were better when I used to use them. It was just because BT disconnected my analogue line so I had to switch to BT to get my internet back within 5 days instead of the 29.5 days it would have taken for Zen to get BT to reconnect my line. In other words they stole my business from Zen by disconnecting me and then offering a solution of ‘why do you get a BT account’ – Not that I think Sky would be better. Zen have been good whenever I have used them. Not a bad word to say.

    1. Andy 97
      Thumb Up

      Re: business package

      I agree with you on so many levels.

      On a domestic package, Zen were excellent, when I asked them to build me a special product for an event, they delivered exactly what I wanted and they only cost a few quid more than other providers.

      If I didn't have BT Vision they'd have my business now.

  23. Morphius

    As an ex customer

    I have to say I was surprised when I switched. I initially went with Sky because it came cheapest when bundled (I know, I know) and on my 8Mb line got a reasonable 6.5Mb. After the 1st year or so the speed during peak times was too slow to watch standard def iPlayer or youtube. I have switched to a certain Yorkshire based company with annoying adverts and on the day of connection I was able to stream HD youtube whilst downloading updates at the same time for the consoles.

    During my time with Sky we tried tech support, tried new routers, filters, pigeons but nothing worked until we switched. After a while and midway through an email exchange their support guys just went silent and ignored any further emails.

    I had put it down to them being over subscribed before Christmas so this article doesn't surprise me at all.

    Note: I am not associated with either ISP and will point out that we pay quite a lot more for our broadband, something said new ISP doesn't make quite so obvious until you speak to sales, however I would rather pay more for something that works, than save £8-£10 and have it unusable.

    1. M Mouse

      Re: As an ex customer

      "we pay quite a lot more for our broadband, something said new ISP doesn't make quite so obvious until you speak to sales"

      Not sure what you are suggesting. Where there have been half-price deals and so on, they have usually been clear in terms of which accounts have been on offer. If you saw a half price deal (but found it was for an account which had a smaller limit for monthly traffic than you wanted), I can accept it may not have been obvious from a TV advert, but would still appreciate knowing what you saw/ heard and what was the impression you got, only to find different when speaking to sales ?

      I'm not associated with the ISP either but have happily recommended them in the past to friends, relatives and clients (for both home and workplace use) with no complaints. Have just seen my bill drop when I switched to their (recently announced) unlimited account (which is, no hidden print 'fair usage' limits, and no throttling).

      1. Morphius

        Re: As an ex customer

        Alas, as a rural customer our internet costs more than the unlimited packages which I expect but it was not made clear when I tested my home number on their website that rural broadband increases the cost above the 8Mb normal price.

        I would like to say that they did make a deal with me and we got a good price, but it was still slightly more than I was expecting from their site.

        I will however happily refer others to them on the basis that my connection now works as predicted but didnt before.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be There

    Sounds like a suspicious confession.

    Are they, by chance, publicising a problem now in order to prepare the market for the forthcoming 'solution' of acquiring Be There and O2 from Telifonica, adding that infrastructure to its own?

    If Sky buy Be, I fear we'll witness a replay of The Pipex Scenario™.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has everyone forgotten what "Contention" means? All broadband products have an associated contention ratio and even if Sky were offering 20:1 on their ADSL 2+ service, that would only 'guarantee' 1.4Mbps.

    Large parts of the UK would be overjoyed to get 1.4Mbps - some people need to stop acting like spoilt brats and accept they can't have their cake AND eat-it.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      That's very true but 'being a contended service' only means it doesn't have 1:1 provision. It doesn't implicitly mean the service is going to slow down at peak times. It's actually a balancing act an expensive ISP will arrange for just enough capacity to handle peak times at full speed (IDNet seem to manage that). It's still contended but at a level that users can't detect. As you move down the pricing scale the ratio does get worse and impacts more users for a greater time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Have to agree...

        Quote - (IDNet seem to manage that)

        Yes, they do - I know it's contended, but it really doesn't feel like it - I never notice any appreciable slowdown.

        I was considering a move to Sky (£45pcm for 200Gb isn't cheap), but I am a homeworker, and even though I have 3G Mifi as back up, as others have said, you get what you pay for...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There doesn't seem to be any capacity problems in Essex... my modem syncs at about 19Mbps with Sky and I consistently manage to max it out when downloading torrents and other kinds of data. No problems with streaming too... yet!

  27. xyz Silver badge

    They have computers in Doncaster??

    Who knew!

  28. pikey

    it really depends were you live...

    when i moved house, i had to go with BT as there was not phone line. Bradband was quoted at 5 to 6mg in reality I was lucky to get 1.5 on a good day.Terrible service(regular drop offs), and high cost ( i moved from a virgin100mb location so more painful really). soon as contract expired figured if my broadband connection is going to eb crap why pay a lot for it, so switched sky. Never looked back. lower cost, reliable service, (no disconnects) and a line spped of average 3mb so it really courses for hourses.

  29. Emmett Jenner


    I don't think that's the point. Corporates never guarantee anything or include anything in their T&Cs which would actually help the customer. Just a load of ar55 covering double-speak. In the case of these Sky customers they had something which was working as they expected... then service dropped off a cliff. Just because T&Cs say it's ok for Sky to offer crap service... does not mean it is ok.

    Incidently, just realised I have Be There at home... it works fine... did not know Sky was about to buy them?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: @ac

      >did not know Sky was about to buy them?

      It's only a vague rumour at the moment. O2 seem to be either running Be down or else prepping the network for a sale and apparently a bloke someone met down the pub knows someone who saw a bloke from Sky visiting the Be offices.

      I'm not really convinced myself. Sky already have Easynet's network which is an actual collection of cables and things. O2 don't actually own anything except the DSLAMs (they rent capacity off other companies like BT) and a few core routers so where's the synergy?

      1. James 100

        Re: @ac

        "Sky already have Easynet's network which is an actual collection of cables and things. O2 don't actually own anything except the DSLAMs (they rent capacity off other companies like BT) and a few core routers so where's the synergy?"

        Migrate those Be DSLAMs onto Sky/Easynet's backhaul network, boosting capacity as needed on the way? I got the impression there was at least some actual network behind Be; O2 referred to using some of that for their mobile backhaul too, which was one complication with spinning out the ISP business again.

        I get the impression Sky's bottleneck is mainly the connection between BT's equipment and their own network: BT charge the earth for that bit (partly so they can make the per-line charge look cheap); Be using their own DSLAMs bypasses that. Someone posted (on another Reg story I think) that Sky have been running out of ports on their own kit and using BT ADSL ports instead, which also gives a worse service in various ways.

        My gut feeling is that Be+Sky/Easynet could give an improved service. Just pooling DSLAM ports would help a bit (the exchanges Sky have run out of ports on probably aren't exchanges Be are out of ports on too), and just combining links to give a single 200 Mbps hop instead of two separate 100 Mbps ones will give slightly better peak performance (peak on one link won't exactly coincide with peaks on the other), even before using the greater volume to get better prices.

        My brother went with Sky at home ('too good to be true' offer when he switched the TV service over from Vermin); I went with an Entanet reseller (Vivaciti) for home (FTTC) and Be (ADSL - no FTTC on that exchange) for the office. He regrets it, I don't regret either of mine.

        I just wish we could get past the "100* (* actually 0.01, but we lie, because the ASA don't understand technology or numbers) Mbps for only 5p* (* plus oxygen usage surcharge, first-born child and a weekly kneecapping) per month!!!" nonsense. Be actually deliver pretty good speeds; Sky/Easynet apparently did until choking up the network, and having admitted there's a problem it sounds like they will do a better job fixing it than the worst bottom-feeder ISPs, who would just say "yep, we cram 100,000 customers on one piece of damp string ... what do you expect for 50p a month?"

        Like another comment here says, people who wouldn't even think of buying Tesco Value bacon or cornflakes still jump at "Crappy broadband, half the bandwidth for 10% less money!" every time. Sad.

  30. NilSatisOptimum

    What do people really expect, for me it s the best connection i have had, sky was first to put its ADSL2 tech in the exchange 2 yrs ago,, I've seen congestion, they sorted the capacity out. All is good again. Sometime soon 2015 BT will put their flavor of ADSL2 in the exchange, corporate greed works in many ways.

  31. Christian Berger


    I mean we are talking about DSL. There is, for such low bandwidths, no big problem with crosstalk. So the problem would lie at the line between the DSLAM and the BRAS or in the core network.... And that's fibre optic and between well connected points. That's darn cheap.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a combination of an underlining increase in network traffic

    What's an underlining increase when it's at home.

    Is it different to an increase?

  33. Enrico Vanni

    Sky - downmarket brand and service with an upmarket price. Always has been, always will be.

  34. mac42

    You can tell the difference between the UK & us Yanks with ADSL from AT&T

    I'm on AT&T's lower plan with 1.5 MBPS. If it ever kept giving me 1.5 MBPS it would be great. Unfortunately, the normal behavior while doing a speedtest you see the speed bounce between 1.4 MBPS and 100-200KBPS. One test will be 1.2 average and the next is 300K. Just watching a video on the yahoo home page is infuriatingly slow with constant rebuffereing. (Sorry, I forgot this was the Reg. I meant "Just! watching! a! video! on! the! yahoo! home! page! is! infuriatingly! slow! with! constant! rebuffereing!)

  35. Electric Panda


    Lots of people sign up for Sky Broadband because it comes as part of a bundle which gets you the absolutely beyond extortionate Sky TV ever so slightly cheaper. People want Sky TV but just getting the TV packages on their own needs a remortgage of Buckingham Palace.

    Similar seems to go for Virgin these days too although their product line-up is cheaper to begin with anyway.

    Both come bundled to get you the main product cheaper, both are by and large dreadful... anyone else spot a pattern here?

  36. Wilseus

    They've always been OK for me

    Am I the only person who, in the main, has been satisfied with Sky's broadband? It's dirt cheap, the customer service is reasonable (and in the UK) and I've always got pretty much the full 20Mb with them. It's a LOT more reliable and cheaper than the Virgin service I used to have.

    (Yes, I do live next door to the exchange, but issues with distance from the exchange are to do with the length of the wires and are beyond Sky's control, surely?)

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: They've always been OK for me

      Where does line length come into this story? The point is that people are experiencing huge drops in speed at peak times due to unacceptable contention. If you get good speeds at some times and it grinds to a halt at others then it's nothing to do with line length and everything to do with penny pinching on the part of the provider.

      1. Wilseus

        Re: They've always been OK for me

        "Where does line length come into this story?"

        I only mentioned line length at the end of my main comment because it's the reason why my ADSL modem syncs (or whatever the process is called) at 20Mb, whereas people that are a long way from the exchange, who are paying for Sky's 20Mb "unlimited" service are going to get maximum speeds much lower than that even if their exchange is running way below capacity. That's all I was saying. I'm not saying that Sky haven't screwed up, mind, they have. But I've always been very happy with their broadband and phone service.

  37. Kevin Johnston

    But what about the typo?

    It says in the text 'we are aware of capacity issues in a limited number of exchanges' and I am sure that should read 'we are aware of limited capacity issues in a number of exchanges?

  38. The Alpha Klutz

    how many clowns can you fit in a VW?

    You'd have to be pretty silly to sign up to Sky in the first place....

  39. Gonebirdin
    Thumb Up

    No worse off

    I've been with Sky for years now and my speeds have recently been poor due to their DLM strangling my line because of noise apparently. Ive just been sent a replacement router and micrfilters and had DLM taken off.

    Currently getting 5.5meg which I'm pleased with.

    Fair play to Sky, their customer service has been excellent, it's just the automated DLM and possibly my line that's the problem.

    Have read the comments I checked all quoted suppliers, BE, ZEN, IDnet and all will only give me a top whack of 3mb. So I'm happy to stay put for now and if I upgrade anything it will be to Fibre.

  40. Phil Thompson

    the curse of unlimited

    There'll be a handful of pirates saturating the backhaul as they strive to download the internet. This has happened to every ISP offering unlimited - tragedy of the commons.

    1. The Alpha Klutz

      Re: the curse of unlimited

      you think its silly to download things? I just looked back through a years worth of my bookmarks. Most of the good stuff has been removed. Number of times my own file server has lost data in the last few years? Nill. Thank god for the pirates archiving the good stuff. you may not realise how important it is now but you'll thank us in 30 years when guess who will have all the real juicy stuff when the totalitarian government locks in? us. If you want any good music in 30 years, you will have to beg ME for a copy.

  41. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I ran my business for 3 years using a Virginmedia residential cable broadband package. Only ever had one problem with it when a power cut/spike blew the modem and i had to revert to using a 3G mobile connection for 2 days until a new modem was sent out to me. But i knew the risks and that my SLA was going to be a residential one and i couldn't expect priority service but it was worth it considering i was saving over £300 a year compared to their business package.

  42. The Lord Lucan
    Thumb Down

    I love the sensationalism of this article. They stated a limited number of exchanges are being upgraded... which is the same for BT they are adding capacity to many exchanges and normally it's slightly behind the curve (ie consumer demand is higher than it can cope with) before the upgrades arrive. Virgin also have over utilisation issues in many parts of the country with cable... Why not cover that??

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "Virgin also have over utilisation issues in many parts of the country with cable... Why not cover that?"

      Please, email us with your problems: either the reporter or to news@thereg. If one person drops us a note, it may just be an end-user cock-up. If 50 hit us up, we know it's a problem.

      And this Sky capacity issue was definitely a problem for some.


  43. nick soph

    Sky have another problem -

    After a problem where my Sky Sagem router randomly but persistently dropped the ADSL connection for a few seconds, I discovered the problem was directly connected to the Routers new firmware and a quick reflash of the older firmware brought the issue to an end.

    Looking on their forums shows im not alone with over a hundred users reporting the same problem on Sky's forums since the start of this year. What is interesting is Sky's response which is firmly sticking it's head in the sand. With users reporting the Internet connection light on the router turning red they are being asked to check

    a. their wireless is not too far from the router

    b. they havn't exceeded their download limits,

    c. whether they are willing to BUY a new router

    Pointing out the fix to about 10 of the users brought a swift response from Sky - If I continue to spam the forums - expect to be banned.

    What is going on and why havn't they acknowledged their is a problem with the new firmware?

  44. nick soph
    Thumb Down

    Not just overloaded - duff firmware increases load

    One particular router is adding to Sky's problems - hundreds of users are reporting multiple random disconnects since Sky pushed out latest firmware upgrade to their Sagem router.

    More interesting is that they are suggesting buying a new router or upgrading package as solutions.

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