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Sky to Trial TV Without Satellite Dish

In a new service being trialled by Sky, customers will be able to receive a full suite of TV channels through their broadband connection, dispensing with the need for a satellite dish.

Currently to receive all of Sky’s television channels and video content you need a satellite dish installed on your home. For many, these dishes are eyesores. They can also lose signal and sustain damage in bad weather. 

Several other providers already deliver the TV channels through your broadband connection, a service called IPTV.

BT and TalkTalk have been doing this through the YouView platform for years (and the BT Group’s subsidiary Plusnet will shortly close their service). Sky’s main competitor Virgin Media, meanwhile, uses the same cable network.

Sky’s arm NOW delivers TV channels and on-demand content through broadband, using hardware from Roku. However, NOW offers just a small selection of TV channels, not the full range Sky itself does.

Sky, the UK's largest pay-TV provider, has been working to develop IPTV products for years. So far the service has launched in Italy, as Sky via Fibre, and Austria, where’s it's branded Sky X. Germany recently joined that list. With a Sky Q IP set-top box and a minimum broadband connection of 6Mbps, households there can view nearly all the terrestrial channels, on-demand boxsets and streaming apps available on the satellite-based Sky Q platform

Sky has been teasing a UK launch of a similar satellite-free product for years. At one point, its IPTV was expected in 2017, then 2018. Now The Express is reporting that the service is “finally imminent.” A tipster reported that nationwide trials of the service, which operates through a set-top box, are already underway in the UK. 

Feedback from that trials will help Sky determine the minimum broadband speeds required for the service in the UK. To give Sky tighter control over the broadband speeds available to these customers, the ISP may require customers to take a broadband tariff from Sky as well.

Express claims to have some details about the product, including, importantly, its price.

The service is expected to cost around the same as the satellite-based service does, with viewers likely to pay £2 for access to the full menu of Sky TV channels, including Sky Atlantic, Sky Documentaries and Sky Comedy. Sky Cinema and Sky sports will cost extra, and contract terms will be the same as with the dish-based service.

Sky’s IP TV service in the UK will also likely support Ultra HD quality, but you’ll have to spend an extra £5 per month for all those pixels. If you want to extend that picture quality across all other content, including Netflix, you’ll need to fork out £11 per month.

The UK box will also reportedly include 1,000 hours of cloud recording, which will enable customers to pause and rewind live TV.

Sources told ISPreview that there are no large customer trials of the service underway. However, that denial leaves open the possibility of smaller technical trials. Based on that, ISPreview suggests a launch of a Sky Q IP Box is at least six months away.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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