During the initial announcement, then-CEO Jeremy Darroch said that streaming the complete Sky Q experience over a fibre broadband connection would enable over six million households across Europe, including two million in the UK alone, who don’t own – or don’t want to own – a satellite dish to access the critically-acclaimed service. But in the following four years, we haven’t heard a thing about the satellite-free version of Sky Q.
That all changed earlier this month when Sky launched a new set-top box, dubbed Sky Q IP Box, in Germany. With a minimum broadband speed of 6 Mbps, viewers can access a number of the same terrestrial channels, on-demand boxsets, and streaming apps found on the standard Sky Q box, which uses a satellite dish and Wi-Fi connection to bring live and catch-up services together into one menu. For comparison, Netflix recommends a minimum of 5 Mbps to watch in High Definition picture quality.
And now, it seems Sky is gearing up to launch a similar service in the UK. Speaking to Express.co.uk, our source claims Sky is testing the new kit with a number of customers nationwide right now. Feedback from the trial will allow Sky to determine minimum broadband speeds.
It’s possible the new set-top box, dubbed Sky IP, will only be available to those with a Sky Broadband connection, we’re told. This would allow Sky tighter control over the broadband speeds available to customers, for example, whether they need to be connected to full-fibre infrastructure.
In Germany, Sky says broadcasts over an internet connection will only be available in HD picture quality. This was confirmed by Sky Deutschland Director Proposition & Product Max Ehrhardt earlier this month. Sky Q does offer a number of blockbuster movies, sport fixtures and boxsets in Ultra HD (4K), however these are not broadcast using a satellite signal. Instead, you’ll need to have an active internet connection to your set-top box. It’s unclear why this isn’t currently available with the Sky Q IP Box in Germany, especially as Ehrhardt has confirmed the hardware is powerful enough to support 4K streams.
According to our source, Sky Q plans to launch its satellite dish-free service with support for Ultra HD quality. The pixel-packed format will cost an additional £5 a month, we’re told. To watch in Ultra HD with Sky Q, you’ll need to spend an extra £11 a month, although this also upgrades the picture quality of your Netflix subscription, allows you to watch on up to four devices simultaneously, and bundles more channels.
As well as saving you from the hassle of drilling holes in the side of your home to affix a satellite dish, or petitioning your landlord to install a new communal dish to the block of flats you’re living in (Sky Q requires an upgraded dish compared with those installed when Sky+ HD was the only option), it could also be a bit of a space saver. The new Sky IP Box is a similar size to the latest hardware from NOW (formerly NOW TV), we’re told. Express UK