Sky has launched its long-anticipated mobile network. Sky Mobile gives you the chance to roll over your unused data and watch on your phone the shows you've recorded on your Sky box.
Back in January 2015, Sky announced that 2016 would see a mobile network joining its satellite TV, landline and broadband services in 2016. With a month to go before the end of the year, Sky Mobile scrapes in under the wire to launch for existing Sky customers and for those who have preregistered their interest. The full launch will follow in the new year.
Right now, it's just SIM deals -- so if you're one of the first customers you'll have to provide your own phone. Sky says it will begin offering devices in the spring of next year.
The new network is built around four features: Roll, Mix, Save and Sync. Roll means at the end of each month you keep your unused data, which you can roll over for up to three years. Mix means you can choose the mix of data, calls and texts that suits you, and can change each month if you want. You get 1GB for £10 per month, 3GB for £15 or 5GB for £20. There's no unlimited data option, sadly.
Save means Sky TV customers get free UK calls and texts. If you don't have a Sky dish, unlimited calls and texts are a tenner on top of whichever data plan you choose.
Finally, Sync means your phone syncs with your Sky box so you can watch on your phone what you've recorded on the box under your telly.
You can download shows over Wi-Fi to watch on your phone. However, if you stream Sky+ recordings over 3G or 4G, it will eat up your data allowance.
A Sky Mobile contract ties you in for a year, but if you're paying for an annual telly or broadband contract as well that's less of an issue.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson of comparison site uSwitch.com says Sky's mobile proposition is pretty good -- as long as you're a Sky TV customer. "46,000 Sky customers [preregistering an interest] is certainly a head start out of the blocks," he said, "but if the TV giant really wants to appeal to data-hungry consumers it may have to offer bigger data bundles."
Britain's phone market has been through a seismic shift in recent years. Of the major players, T-Mobile merged with Orange to become EE, which was in turn swallowed up by BT. Sky now joins the ranks of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), smaller networks that use the infrastructure of a larger network. Like rival MVNO GiffGaff, Sky Mobile will use O2's masts and infrastructure.