Virgin and Sky are set to get more competitive in the media space. Virgin is releasing their V6 box, a clear rival to Sky Q, while Sky is launching its own mobile phone network. With more options and competition the question arises should Londoners switch or stay put for their broadband, TV, and mobile services? This post should give some clarity on what both companies are offering.
Sky’s Mobile Network
Sky is late to the mobile space with their leading competitors established for several years. Currently EE is the biggest operator with a 31% market share. Sky Mobile, however, takes a slightly different approach with its mobile plans which may sway Londoners to sign up.
Sky has put a lot of emphasis on data. According to Wired, there are three sim only plans available. They are:
- 1GB of data for £10 per month
- 3GB of data for £15 per month
- 5GB of data for 20 per month
One of the intriguing things about Sky’s approach is that unused data rolls over month to month stored in an online ‘piggybank’. The ‘piggybank’ can be accessed for up to three years, and can be shared among other Sky Mobile users in the same household. One household can register up to five sims. The plans are flexible allowing data allowance to change month on month. Sky customers receive unlimited UK calls and texts for free, and Sky Go is also part of the bundle for customers.
Another factor that may sway you if you’re a Sky user is that you can stream programmes to your mobile devices over 4G or download over Wi-Fi to watch later without a web connection.
Non Sky customers can get unlimited calls and texts for £10 per month. Contracts are for 12 months.
Currently, 46,000 people have registered an interest in Sky Mobile, and the service is due to start later in mid December 2016.
Virgin’s 4K Box and other Delights
This week, Virgin unveiled their Virgin TV V6 Box, which boasts 4K Ultra HD viewing. In essence this is Virgin’s answer to Sky Q and has similar features such as:
- The ability to record up to six television programmes at once while watching a seventh or watching streamed TV.
- Series Link+ – This automatically searches all mediums for episodes of your favourite TV shows and downloads them ready for viewing. This includes streams as well as terrestrial and Catch-up TV. It also automatically records the next TV series of shows you’ve watched previously.
- It offers 500 hours of recording space (1 TB)
- Built in Netflix providing you have a subscription together with the full range of Catch-up TV.
- The ability to watch recorded and live TV on mobile devices with the TV Anywhere app. The app also allows you to set the V6 to record TV remotely.
- Backward compatible with Virgin’s TiVo boxes, so recorded shows and settings can easily be transferred.
- You can stream shows direct to other mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones.
- Multiple V6 boxes in the same home can talk to each other, allowing for different recorded content on each box to be played on connected TVs and devices.
- Supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) content.
As well as the new box Virgin are launching the ‘Telly Tablet’. This is a fourteen inch tablet that runs Marshmallow Android operating system. It is purpose built to sync with the V6, allowing the watching of live and recorded TV in 1080 HD. The idea is that it is portable and can be watched in any room in the home.
Hot of the footsteps of Sky, Virgin is launching an online store, where you can buy digital copies of movies shortly after their cinema run, and Virgin, like Sky will send you the DVD in the post. This has been hugely successful for Sky.
For Virgin’s premium rate customers, Virgin is supplying a kid’s app for three to six year olds. Virgin guarantees no ads or in-app purchases.
For existing customers, the V6 is a one off purchase of £99.95 with no increase in subscription rates, the tablet is a one off £300, or can be part of a mobile contract.
Will you be tempted?
Both Virgin and Sky’s new offerings have been met with some degree of criticism. Ewan Taylor-Gibson of uSwitch.com pointed out that Sky’s sim only deal was not as competitive as giffgaff’s offering, which provides unlimited data, calls, and texts, with no contract for £20 per month.
Meanwhile, Virgin’s new offering has been criticised for not offering the same range of content as Sky and BT. Given the hassle of switching TV, Broadband, and mobile suppliers you may feel sticking with what you have is the best option.
On the other hand, if you are in the market for new TV or mobile services, then both offerings have appeal. It could well simply come down to how much data you use, and if you have a 4K TV and watch a lot of Netflix.
For existing customers of both Sky and Virgin, the new offerings hold promise, but the services depend on a quality broadband connection. You can compare both Virgin and Sky’s broadband quality by clicking here.