Were you thinking about buying Sky Glass or Sky Stream? Sky recently announced higher minimum broadband speed requirements for their popular streaming devices, which could heavily impact your viewing experience.
Sky Glass and Sky Stream both rely on broadband (instead of a satellite dish), therefore – like any other streaming device – they need your broadband to be fast enough, especially if you’re watching in 4K (Ultra HD), or if you have more than one streaming device at home.
Until recently, Sky marked the minimum speed requirements for Sky Glass and Sky Stream at just 11 Mbps for HD streaming, and a recommended speed of 25Mbps for 4K streaming.
But this week, Sky changed those requirements: the minimum broadband speed for Sky Glass and Sky Stream is now 25Mbps (even for HD streaming).
For 4K streaming, or if you have more than one Sky Glass / Sky Stream device (and you intend to use them at the same time) – Sky now recommends a broadband speed of 30Mbps.
Curiously, these broadband speeds are higher than the ones recommended by Netflix, for example – but there could be several reasons for that (see more on that below).
This means that if you can’t get broadband speeds of 25Mbps and up – for whatever reason (either because of infrastructure or costs) – you won’t be able to have the best possible experience with Sky’s streaming devices, and may have to resort back to Sky’s satellite dishes (or find other TV solutions).
Also, there’s no actual change for existing customers, regardless of their broadband speed – assuming, of course, Sky Stream already works well for you.
Sky Glass (see my review), which was released in 2021, is a 4K TV set that features a QLED HDR display and a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar with six speakers.
Sky Stream (see our review), which launched in late 2022, is a standalone streaming set-top box that works with any broadband provider (so you don’t need Sky Broadband for it to work – unlike Virgin Media’s Stream, for example, which requires VM’s broadband).
Unlike Sky’s other devices in the UK (such as Sky Q), Sky Glass and Sky Stream don’t use a satellite dish – instead, they rely on broadband, and stream all the content to your TV, much like other streaming devices such as the Amazon Fire TV and Roku – or streaming services like Sky’s own NOW (see our Sky Glass VS Now comparison).
Furthermore, since Glass and Stream don’t have any local storage, they can’t record content on the device (unlike Sky Q, for example).
This means that everything needs to be streamed from the cloud – either directly from the channel / streaming service, or from Sky’s own cloud, where some of the content can be “stored” for you (learn more on how recording works on Sky Stream).
Even live Freeview channels are streamed via broadband on Sky Glass and Stream – so you don’t need an aerial.
But… all this means that without decent broadband, you won’t be able to watch anything.
Streaming And The Importance Of Broadband Speeds
Broadband speed plays a critical role in determining the quality of streaming services such as Sky Stream. A high-speed connection is necessary for various reasons, including ensuring optimal video resolution and a seamless viewing experience.
Furthermore, Sky’s streaming platforms offer content in a range of video resolutions, from Standard Definition to Ultra HD (4K). To access the best picture quality available on each of these resolutions, a faster broadband speed is required to manage the substantial data demands of higher resolutions.
Higher broadband speeds contribute to an uninterrupted viewing experience, free from buffering pauses, as no one likes to sit and watch a spinning circle. This is particularly important in households with multiple devices connected to the network, such as smartphones, tablets, and multiple streaming devices.
A faster broadband connection can accommodate simultaneous streaming on multiple devices without compromising video quality or causing lags.
Lastly, high-speed broadband connections enable faster load times, allowing users to start watching their preferred content almost instantly – which is particularly important with Sky Stream and Glass not having any local storage.
Sky Stream VS Netflix’s Broadband Requirements
Netflix’s official streaming speed recommendations are:
High Definition (720p) Streaming: Broadband speed of at least 3 Mbps.
Full High Definition (1080p) Streaming: Broadband speed of at least 5 Mbps.
UltraHD (4K) Streaming: Broadband speed of at least 15 Mbps.
Remember that these numbers are typically correct for one stream. If you intend to stream 4K video on two devices at the same time, in the same household, you would usually need an even faster connection. Netflix even publishes a monthly list of the best broadband providers for Netflix, in the UK.
But with Sky Glass and Sky Stream’s new minimum speed requirement – 25Mbps for HD and 30Mbps for 4K – how come you need a faster connection for Sky?
There could be several reasons for that.
First, it’s possible Sky uses different video compression algorithms than the ones used by Netflix, something that may cause Sky’s video “files” to be larger, and therefore slower to reach your house via broadband.
Furthermore, since the launch of Sky Glass (and then Sky Stream), some customers have been complaining about choppy performance – either while streaming content, or even when just using the OS to browse for content.
With a higher speed minimum, those problems may disappear.
It’s worth noting that these requirements are not set in stone – if you’re an existing customer, you have slower broadband speeds, and your Sky Stream device is working fine – it’s not going to just stop working.
But if and when you face any issues – you will likely be told by Sky that your broadband speed is too slow.
Of course, it’s important to remember that in addition to your broadband speed – Sky Stream and Glass are also affected by the WiFi speed (and reliability) in the room where you put the device (unless you connect it via an Ethernet cable).