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Sky Mobile Coverage and Network Review

13th November 2018

Sky Mobile Network

Sky Mobile is an MVNO which uses O2’s infrastructure. That means wherever O2 has signal Sky Mobile does too, which currently means 4G coverage for around 99% of the UK population indoors.

You can expect those figures to continue to grow, but coverage isn’t the main reason to pick Sky Mobile, as the network aims to stand out by offering roll over data – meaning that if you don’t use all your data one month you can add it to a future month, for up to three years.

The network also allows you to change between tariffs each month, even if you’re locked in to a contract. And if you’re already a Sky customer you can get a discount on plans.

These are all high points of the network, but it falters in some areas too. Read on for a full overview and review of Sky Mobile.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Data roll over

Fairly low data limits

Flexible plans

No inclusive roaming beyond Europe

Low cost for Sky TV customers

No Pay As You Go

Our Rating

Coverage

Sky Mobile Network Coverage

Network Type Coverage by population
4G  99%
3G 99%
2G 99%

Sky Mobile has widespread 2G and 3G coverage. It’s 4G coverage is similarly comprehensive, but is a little behind EE and Three at around 99% indoors, which means you can get 4G in most locations.

Use Sky’s coverage checker above to find out more about Sky 4G coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

4G Network Coverage Comparison

Network

4G Coverage by population

EE

> 99%

Vodafone

99%

Sky Mobile (O2 Network)

99%

Three

99.8%

As you can see in the table above, Sky Mobile (through O2) currently has around 99% UK population coverage with 4G, which puts it in line with Vodafone, but behind EE, Three and any MVNOs powered by them.

4G from O2 and by extension Sky Mobile is now available in well over 16,000 UK towns, cities and villages.

The major towns and cities include but are not limited to: Antrim, Bradford, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bridgend, Brighton, Burnley, Castleford, Coleraine, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Leigh, Liverpool, Livingston, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, London, Macclesfield, Newtownabbey, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Pontypool, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, St Albans, Sittingbourne, Southampton and Tamworth.

Recent locations to get an O2 (and by extension Sky Mobile) 4G upgrade include: numerous locations in Gloucestershire.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, October 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

28.9Mbps

39.77ms

Three

18.78Mbps

48.15ms

Vodafone

21.92Mbps

40.78ms

O2 (Sky Mobile)

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

Sky Mobile uses standard 4G, which is roughly 5 times faster than a typical 3G network. In a recent OpenSignal report (above), O2’s average 4G download speed was found to be 14.61Mbps – that’s relevant because Sky Mobile uses O2’s infrastructure, so its speeds are likely to be similar.

In this case, that’s not a great thing, as that’s slower than the average 4G download speed of any major rival. Its average latency is slightly better though at 42.38ms. That’s the measure of how long it takes the network to respond to a request and for that it beats Three, but still loses out to EE and Vodafone.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

EE

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

Three

14.58/7.35Mbps

O2 (Sky Mobile)

14.11/7.13Mbps

In a slightly older report from Speedtest, shown in the chart above, O2 (and likely also therefore Sky Mobile) offered average download speeds of 14.11Mbps and average upload speeds of 7.13Mbps. Both of these results are lower than rivals, so Sky Mobile clearly isn’t the network to be on if speed is a priority.

As an O2 MVNO, Sky Mobile uses the 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz bands for 4G.

Sky Mobile Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

900MHz

Band 8

2G & 3G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2300MHz

Band 40 4G

The 800MHz band is a good band to have access to, as it's long range, so it can travel a long way between base stations, making it suited to rural environments.

And it’s also good at penetrating walls and buildings, making it great for built up areas as well, and ensuring strong coverage both indoors and out.

The 2300MHz band meanwhile is shorter range, but works well in busy areas. The 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands are a middle ground.

You can find in depth details of the various bands in our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

Sky Mobile is largely reliant on O2 for improvements, since it uses that network’s infrastructure and spectrum.

The good news there is that O2 is building new infrastructure and improving its 4G coverage all the time, and currently has plans to build 1,000 new sites across the UK.

The network also purchased 40Mhz of 3.4GHz spectrum at a spectrum auction. This is to be used for 5G, so it won’t lead to immediate improvements, but could help Sky offer a 5G network earlier than it might otherwise have.

And O2 is set to improve 4G coverage in 339 rural communities by the end of 2018.

Traffic management

Sky Mobile’s traffic management policy reads: “We may direct and manage traffic on our network as is required to deliver the quality of service we have agreed to, including in some circumstances directing traffic onto different parts of our network such as 3G, 4G and WiFi.”

The network adds that if your use of ‘unlimited’ or roaming services exceeds “that reasonably expected of a reasonable person” the network may temporarily suspend your services or charge you, but you’ll be notified before any charges are made. This sort of fair use policy is unlikely to affect most users.

Plans

Sky Mobile currently offers just a small number of Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans, detailed below. All plans come with 4G at no extra cost. All plans also allow you to roll over any unused data from one month to the next. There’s no limit to how much you can roll over, and you can store it for up to 3 years.

Sky Mobile Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Plans Available

Max Data

15GB

15GB

Contract lengths

24 or 12 months

12 months

Tethering

VoLTE

WiFi Calling

✔*

✔*

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

 

View deals

View deals

* Select handsets only currently

Sky Mobile’s Pay Monthly plans come with a choice of 2GB, 4GB, 8GB or 15GB of data. Those data costs come in at £6, £12, £15 and £20 respectively each month.

Of course, you'll pay more on top of that for your phone.

If you’re a Sky TV customer you get unlimited calls and texts as well for free. If you’re not you can pay an additional £10 per month for unlimited calls and texts, or only pay for what you use, at a rate of 10p per minute and 10p per text.

That said, at the time of writing some plans include free calls and texts for six months even if you’re not a Sky TV customer.

Pay Monthly plans last either 12 or 24 months - though for a 12-month plan you'll pay more each month for the phone component. Sky Mobile’s SIM Only plans also come with a choice of 2GB, 4GB, 8GB or 15GB of data.

The basic price you pay (of £6, £12, £15 and £20 respectively) is just for that data, but if you’re a Sky TV customer you get unlimited calls and texts as well for free, while if you're not you'll pay extra at the rates highlighted above.

Plans all last 12 months, but you can switch between them every 30 days if you need more or less data.

Sky Mobile also has tablet plans if you want to get your slate online. These come with the same allowances as above, but aren’t available SIM-Only, so you have to get a new tablet as part of the offering.

Data rollover is the clear highlight of Sky Mobile’s plans, while limited choices and low data limits are a drawback.

Tethering

Sky Mobile allows you to use as much of your data as you want for tethering, meaning you can use your mobile data to get other devices online.

The only limitation is your overall data allowance, but as that tops out at 15GB it’s not the best network for tethering.

WiFi Calling

WiFi Calling means using a Wi-Fi network rather than your mobile network to call and text, but it typically still works with your normal number and dialler, so you can seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi and mobile networks and stay in touch where there’s no normal signal.

Sky Mobile offers this but currently only on the Samsung Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ2, Sony Xperia XA2 and Sony Xperia XZ1.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE and is sometimes called 4G Calling. It refers to the ability to make calls over 4G, which is beneficial because it means you can stay in touch when there’s only a 4G signal, and can also lead to better voice quality.

Not all networks support VoLTE though and currently Sky Mobile doesn’t.

Pay As You Go

Sky Mobile doesn’t currently offer any Pay As You Go services.

Roaming Destinations

Sky Mobile lets you use your full allowance of minutes, texts and data at no extra cost in all EU and EEA countries.

Outside the EU you can pay £5 per 24 hours to roam in Australia, Canada, Christmas Islands, Cocos Islands, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Qatar, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.

Customer Service

There isn’t currently any real data with which to judge the effectiveness of Sky Mobile’s customer service, as recent studies into mobile network customer service haven’t included Sky.

We’ll update this section if any relevant reports are published.

Conclusion

Sky Mobile feels mostly built for Sky TV customers, giving you a huge saving on calls and texts if you subscribe to both.

However, it’s worth considering even if you get your entertainment elsewhere, as being able to roll over an unlimited amount of data is a big selling point that few networks can match.

Being able to change your plan every month also makes Sky Mobile very flexible, however a lack of plans, fairly low data limits and no inclusive roaming beyond Europe holds it back, as does being on O2, as that network currently can’t match the speed of rivals.

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