Overnight drop in broadband speed left Sky customer with headache

Company says it has restored original line speed for reader in rural Ireland

A Sky customer says his broadband speed dropped overnight

A Sky customer says his broadband speed dropped overnight


Martin starts out by apologising for “another tale of telecoms woe”. His issue is with Sky’s broadband.

Martin lives in a rural intervention area under the National Broadband Plan and, he says, since he moved to the area in 2015 he has achieved a very reliable active line speed of 12mbps. “We were originally with Eir, but moved to Sky in October 2020 as they offered a lower price. I wouldn’t say 12mbps is great, but it is currently good enough for our family’s needs.”

He says he has two young children with autism spectrum disorder, and the family uses ICT for a lot of their therapies that are unavailable elsewhere and for educational tools. “Of course, during this damned pandemic, we have become solely reliant on online as the HSE early intervention services and schools closed. In addition, our house has become the workplace with more Zooming, Teamsing and Skyping than anyone would want.”

Until April 10th, that is.

“Sometime during the night of April 10th-11th, there was an outage that affected lots of houses around here. Internet service was restored around 24 hours later, but with a reduced active line speed of 7.1mbps. I thought this was a technical process where profiles would be turned down to allow synching to take place, and that the previous active line speed would be restored.”

Customer care vortex

That did not happen and he says he has now “entered into the vortex of Sky customer care. Now, if there was a service that was set up to thwart, this is one!”

He says Sky’s customer care starts with the automated answering service trying to get you to hang up. “Then, Tier 1 support asks if the modem is switched on, how many lights are on in your hub and have you tried rebooting. Tier 1 then asks Tier 2 to check with the owner of the cables (in this case BT). BT apparently ran some prequel tests which confirmed that the active line speed is 7.1mbps. Sky says that they have no other role whatsoever. I pointed out that I don’t have any arrangement with BT and that I expected Sky to ask for previous speeds to be restored. Sky repeat that they have no further interest.”

He says he pointed out that his contract says that he “should expect to receive the normally available or the average download speed” but he says that in response Sky repeated that it would do no more.

“Obviously, as a consumer I would prefer that a customer service helpdesk doesn’t simply say ‘tough’ when they fail to meet their obligation, in the same way that they would surely pursue me if I, for example, stopped paying them. I’ve sent emails to Sky which have received an automated acknowledgment promising contact in 48 hours, but they never call. I have contacted ComReg, but they are adopting a wait and see approach!”

He says Sky should have written to him “if there was any intention to make the reduced active line speed permanent”. He says that changes as a result of third-party reasons are covered in his contract but says it “is on the basis that they will restore the services as quickly as we reasonably can. Instead I have been told that they will do nothing. I know that I could cite relevant provisions of the contract to exit my contract without incurring a termination fee, but that would still leave me unable to use an alternative fixed-line broadband service. So I would like the matter resolved.”

Complex case

He says that he has already been told that he should get a mobile wifi account too. “We have done so because it was essential for work but it seems a bit like ESB Networks saying that they’ll provide electricity to our house, but recommending that we get a generator if we hope to boil a kettle.”

Martin concludes by saying that OpenEir claims that the 12mbps speeds he has been receiving since 2015 (from Eir and then Sky) “have never been available to me. Sky were apologetic that the speeds were no longer available, but say that there is nothing they can do about it. I contacted OpenEir who haven’t replied”.

“The position seems to be that I can leave Sky without having to pay any termination fee, but that is the limit of what Sky can do. I left Eir in October having been driven demented by their famous customer service. Little did I realise that their infrastructure wing would unilaterally decide to cut our speed and negatively impact on our family – particularly when public health advice still asks people to work from home.”

The good news is Sky were able to help our reader. “This particular case was a complex one. Following an investigation, we were advised by our wholesale broadband provider that the max this line could get was 7mb and 1mb,” a spokeswoman said. “After revisiting the situation, and escalating the case with our wholesale provider the issue has been resolved and the line is receiving the original speeds of 12mb. We have apologised to the customer for his poor experience and we are discussing potential process improvements with our partners.’