Sky Broadband is one of the biggest broadband services offered by Sky UK in the United Kingdom. The company was created after Sky UK purchased the ISP EasyNet in 2005. With over 6.1 million customers, Sky Broadband is one of the top-ranked internet providers, receiving the fewest complaints per 100,000 clients, according to Ofcom, the communication service regulator in the UK. With a long history of throttling services such as peer-to-peer and streaming, it is important to understand the reasons why Sky does this and how to avoid this kind of restriction by using a VPN service.
Throttling and Blocking
Sky Broadband is known to throttle users’ connections. The company explains through its fair usage policy that one of its products, Sky Broadband Connect, is subject to network management. This means that during peak hours, connection may be up to 90% slower for customers downloading large files or using services that require larger bandwidth, such as YouTube and Netflix. Peer-to-peer file sharing and newsgroups are slowed during crowded periods.
In addition, Sky Broadband acknowledges that it has blocked specific types of sites, more precisely the ones related to “drug use, pornography, offensive or illegal speech, hacking, malware, phishing and other fraud, spyware and adware, bot nets, key-loggers, and other types of monitoring”, as per the request of operators of venues with cloud hotspots.
The company explains that the reason for throttling their customers’ connections is to provide a fair and sustainable broadband service, allowing equal access to all users who are online simultaneously. Network management can also be done when clients have exceeded their Usage Cap. If that happens, users will first receive an email alert. If they go over their Usage Cap more than once during a six-month period, then Sky Broadband will either upgrade them to a product with higher limits or charge for the additional used data.
While having your internet connection slowed isn’t a great experience, we have to acknowledge Sky’s positive effort to be transparent with its customers, regarding network management.
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Using a VPN With Sky Broadband
During peak hours, ISPs may determine that certain IP groups can’t exceed more than a certain connection speed. The same can be done whenever a customer has exceeded their data plan. Both of these scenarios are situations where Sky Broadband has admittedly interfered with its clients’ internet velocity. Internet Service Providers may also decide to prioritize traffic over a range of services. Usually, P2P services and streaming will reflect a slower connection speed compared to when using an email service, messaging, or website browsing.
Therefore, a VPN service is a great way to overcome these barriers, since users will be connected to servers at another location. By having a different IP address outside of the affected IP groups, the restriction on the speed will be dodged and users will be able to improve their connection speeds.
However, this doesn’t mean that an internet provider can’t throttle a VPN connection. While they can’t determine exactly what their customers are doing, ISPs have the ability to guess, more or less, by interpreting the information they can access. For example, when torrenting, multiple connection requests happen before the download actually starts. Usually after that, various downloads of files with similar sizes will occur. This kind of activity can be detected by the internet provider and if so, they will be able to limit the connection.
Recommended VPN Services
As mentioned before, using a VPN service can be a good shortcut to overcome Sky Broadband’s network management. While there is a long list of suitable VPN services, we have narrowed it down to three suggestions.
Recognized as one of the top VPN services, ExpressVPN has an impressive network of 87 countries, and puts its competitors to shame when it comes to speed. This software is even safer than that of some of its competitors because it integrates a smart DNS into the VPN. The program also includes a built-in speed test. Although there is no trial or free version available, users can still try this premium solution risk-free by making use of the company’s 30-day money-back guarantee, before making a final decision.
With an outstanding reputation in the VPN services market, NordVPN will wow users with its extensive worldwide network. With more than 5,100 servers in over 60 different countries, the program adds peer-to-peer specific connections to DNS leak prevention, and kill switch features. Users can also customize their connection, since the software uses several encryption protocols like AES-256-CBC. Although prices for NordVPN are extremely accessible, customers can test the service first, during a seven-day free trial. As a bonus, with the company's 30-day money-back guarantee, all purchases can be used as an extra risk-free trial.
One of the safest VPN services available, TorGuard is dedicated mainly to P2P support. The software provides full DNS leak protection and uses various protocols such as PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP. With more than 30 servers distributed over eight different countries, it is clear the company favors quality over quantity. Customers can try the VPN program for free for a period of seven days. As an extra incentive, TorGuard will offer a total of 37 days free of charge to users who already have a VPN from another company and intend to make the switch. After the customer sends proof of the cancelation, the company will grant the additional 30 days.