Sky: Speed is not important to broadband customers

Does speed matter? Well, yes of course.
Does speed matter? Well, yes of course.

Sky is insisting that the average consumer is not worried about the speed of their broadband connection, and that the time when DSL connections begin to lag behind people's usage is some time away.

Speaking to TechRadar, Sky's director of broadband and telephony, Delia Bushel, introduced research on 5,000 people that demonstrated that the speed of connection lagged well behind value and consistency of service in what people want.

"People think that broadband is a very good thing," said Bushel.

"But overall people want a connection that is fit for purpose, a connection that is fast enough to do what they want, that works and at a price that suits their pocket."


TechRadar asked if the public were educated enough about speed of broadband connection to separate it from the quality of their service – and if the increase in VOD usage would mean that people would increasingly be butting up against the limit of the DSL network.

"I think that the DSL network is quite capable of dealing with people's usage," answered Bushel, "It will remain so for a significant time."

Sky is on the verge of launching Sky Anytime+ – its own VOD service – and the broadcaster has decided not to allow HD streaming, which would put excess pressure on the network.

"Because of the way in which we have done Anytime+ there is no enormous pressure on our network," said Bushel, conceding that the company was "very likely" to roll out an HD version of the service.

But what does speed mean? 

It is clear from the survey that the term 'speed' is confusing consumers, with perhaps no realisation that faster connections can deal better with multiple streams – several people using connected devices at the same time, for instance.

Instead it would appear that people are considering it as just an indication of how fast internet pages load or files are downloaded.

Consistency of service and value are obvious winners in the consumer survey, but it remains to be seen if 'speed' has become wrapped up into that in their head.

Clear as mud

That's something that will become much clearer when people's household usage begins to put bandwidth pressure on their connections.

"When deciding on which broadband service to choose, consumers are making decisions based on a wide range of factors," summarised Bushel.

"What this research has done is to cut through the noise around broadband speeds and listen to what the majority of broadband users say about what matters to them.

"Consumers obviously want a connection that is fast enough to allow them to do what they want online.

"But our research shows that value for money, reliability and consistency of speed are the most important considerations when people are weighing up their options.

"It's clear that consumers also want broadband providers to be more up front about issues such as traffic management and usage caps, both of which are clearly affecting the online experience of many."

But are the consumers being given enough information to actually realise how much bandwidth will become a factor in their usage in years to come? That may be the most important question, and this survey suggests that the answer is by no means yes.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.