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Sky Mobile Review and Network Coverage

20th January 2020

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 that figure 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 into a contract. And if you’re already a Sky TV customer you can get free extras.

These are all high points of the network, but it falters in some areas too, which you’ll find details of below. Read on then for a full review of Sky Mobile, along with an overview of its coverage.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Data roll over

Middling data limits

Flexible plans

No inclusive roaming beyond Europe

Fairly low cost

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 likely 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.

5G coverage

Sky Mobile is a rarity among MVNOs in that it already offers a 5G service. It uses O2 for coverage, meaning its 5G is available in the same locations. At the time of writing that means 21 towns and cities, specifically:

Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Sheffield, Slough and Stoke.

Below you can see where to expect Sky Mobile 5G next, along with a list of the key places that have it now.

Sky Mobile 5G Coverage Rollout

Major locations with 5G

5G from later in 2020

Belfast

Aberdeen

Birmingham

Birkenhead

Bradford

Blackpool

Bristol

Bournemouth

Cardiff

Brighton

Coventry

Cambridge

Derby

Eton

Edinburgh

Guildford

Glasgow

Hove

Leeds

Kingston

Leicester

Luton

Lisburn

Milton Keynes

Liverpool

Newbury

London

Northampton

Manchester

Plymouth

Newcastle

Portsmouth

Norwich

Reading

Nottingham

Southampton

Sheffield

Sunderland

Slough

Warrington

Stoke

Windsor

 

Wolverhampton

Of course you’ll also need a 5G phone, but a number of these are starting to land on Sky Mobile too.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Network Experience, October 2019

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

33.7/8.9Mbps

37.3ms

Three

21.6/7.4Mbps

46.3ms

Vodafone

25.1/7.8Mbps

39.4ms

O2 (Sky Mobile)

16.9/5.7Mbps

37.4ms

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 16.9Mbps and its average upload speed was 5.7Mbps – 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 37.4ms. That’s the measure of how long it takes the network to respond to a request and for that it beats Three and Vodafone, but still loses out to EE.

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

3400MHz

Band 42 5G

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.

Sky through O2 also has access to the 3400MHz band, which is the highest frequency of any it uses and is ideal for 5G.

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. The big focus going forward though is likely to be on improving 5G coverage.

Traffic management

Sky Mobile’s traffic management policy reads: “We will manage the network in order to give you the service we have agreed to. For example, we may automatically direct traffic onto different parts of the network such as 3G, 4G or 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

SIM Only Deals
Sky Mobile

12 Month Contract

3 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£12.00 a month

View Deal

Sky Mobile

12 Month Contract

15 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£18.00 a month

View Deal

View All Sky Mobile Sim Only Deals

Sky Mobile currently offers just a small number of Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans, detailed below. All plans come with 4G and 5G 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

25GB

25GB

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 and SIM Only plans come with a choice of 3GB, 9GB, 10GB, 15GB or 25GB of data. Those data costs come in at £6, £12, £15 £18 and £25 respectively each month.

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

All plans also come with free unlimited calls and texts. You used to have to pay £10 extra per month for this unless you were a Sky TV customer, but at the time of writing it's available to everyone.

However, Sky TV customers now get a different bonus instead – they can stream an unlimited amount of content from Sky apps that they’re subscribed to without it coming out of their data allowance.

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 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 data 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 middling 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 25GB at the time of writing it’s not the best network for tethering, though nor is it awful.

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 iPhone 6 or later, or a selection of Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10 Plus, Sony Xperia 1, Sony Xperia 5, Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro. You can find the full and up to date list here.

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.

This is available on Sky Mobile, but at the time of writing only for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, making it extremely restrictive.

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 over 30 EU and EEA countries.

Outside the EU you can pay £6 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 is clearly best for Sky TV customers, since you can stream without using your data allowance when using its apps.

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, and the costs are reasonable, however a lack of plans, middling 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.

Overall then it’s not one of the very best networks, especially if you’re not a Sky customer already, but it’s certainly suited to some users.

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