/ Home & Energy, Technology

Poor weather means bad luck for Sky TV customers

Staying in on a stormy night to catch up on missed TV is one of life’s great pleasures. While the weather may mean you lose your live TV signal, have you ever had trouble with recorded programmes?

Last winter was one of the stormiest in the UK for at least 20 years and the wettest since 1910, according to the Met Office. And every gale and downpour of chubby rain stopped my Sky dish from receiving a signal.

So what? You might say. Unless an engineer is on standby over my dish with a brolly, what do I expect? Well, it’s not the dish cutting out that bothered me, it was being unable to access the programmes I’d recorded on my Sky box.

We still need a signal

At the time, Sky’s set-up meant that if you couldn’t receive a signal, it must mean you’d stopped subscribing to its services. Sky+ boxes store recordings, but still require a recent satellite signal to let you access them. And signal outages can last hours.

This meant that your cosy evening plan to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones could be ruined by any outbreak of winter weather. Seeing as it was windy and rainy rather a lot last year, I spent quite a few evenings changing my plans.

We’ve also found that 68% of Which? members with Sky TV have experienced reception problems during poor weather. Heavy rain affected 76%, but snowfall (36%), strong wind (33%), thick clouds or fog (13%) and even normal rain (6%) are also problematic.

We’ve seen improvements

This year, Sky upgraded its system so that Sky+HD boxes allow access for up to 12 hours without a signal. Older boxes can access recordings for up to an hour.

Unfortunately, I still have one of their older boxes and as with a typical British winter, it’s pretty likely that it’ll rain or gale for longer than an hour. However, it’s still a big improvement and a move in the right direction.

Are you with Sky and have had difficulties accessing your recorded programmes? Do you think it’s unfair that you can’t access recorded TV in bad weather?

Comments
Member

I have never noticed not being able to access recordings in bad weather, only live Sky TV getting no signal, but we do have a later Sky+HD box.

We record most programmes to watch at our convenience and have lost many a series because of various problems – some being no signal in bad weather. Sky catch-up sounds great, but the latest episodes of new series are only around for a few days so if you haven’t noticed a problem with a recording you have to wait until the series runs again. Then the series runs nightly instead of weekly so you might have to record the series in non-HD otherwise you get problems with space on your box.

There seems to be no logic behind what is available on catch-up and box sets. Various episodes of previous series can be available but not the latest of a new series.

But I do agree, it is unfair that you cannot watch what you have paid rather a lot of money for. I have always resented Sky retaining half your hard drive to download what they think you want to watch. Why can’t this space be used for you to request episodes that you have lost to be downloaded there instead.

Member

You have already accepted that weather should effect your ability to watch programs on your Sky box.

Sky’s installation engineers are under pressure to complete the work as quickly as possible so once the dish is pointing roughly in the right direction and a picture appears the job is complete. In my opinion, if the dish is correctly aligned and the cable connection is watertight weather should not be a problem.

I have adjusted my dish without any special tools and I never have a problem watching live TV.

Member

In my opinion, if the dish is correctly aligned and the cable connection is watertight weather should not be a problem” – This is not true. Any thunderstorm between the dish and the satellite causes a loss or deterioration of signal.

Member

> Any thunderstorm between the dish and the satellite causes a loss or deterioration of signal.
Your right, thunderstorms will effect the signal because they cause electrical interference, but heavy rain should not even on the channels transmitted at lower power.

Member

Poor reception during heavy rain can be alleviated by a larger dish and poor reception during wind can be alleviated by securing the dish so that it doesn’t move slightly.

Member

You are right-NFH- as somebody with several large dishes pointing towards Astra 28 which is for sat freeview and Sky I do not get outages unless water gets in the cable or the dish is moved by the wind . Mine are anchored against a 2ft thick sandstone wall with extra stiffeners. AS a matter of fact I watch German Satellite on 19 Astra and have never had an outage (eurosport free on it ). If Sky made the standard dish a lot larger then half the outages wouldnt happen ,they also have special LNB,s which means you cannot directly replace their LNB with a superior one . Not many people seem to know that you dont need to buy the dish or LNB from Sky ,just buy their box (or your own ) and it will work okay as long as you pay for a card and set up.

Member

The problem is that Sky mis-sells Sky+ as a service, whereas it is in fact functionality of the Sky box which is owned by the customer.

Sky+ is a PVR (personal video recorder). There are many PVRs on the market, all of which have the functionality to record television programmes on to a hard disk, unlike their predecessors, video cassette recorders, which recorded programmes on to tape. Sky+ is no different from any other PVR; PVRs record both from terrestrial signals or from satellite signals. The electronic programme guide (EPG), upon which PVRs depend, is free-to-air and is not dependent on a subscription.

Unlike other PVRs, Sky+ doesn’t work even on free-to-air channels unless you pay Sky a subscription, even though you have already bought and own the equipment. This is despite the fact that Sky+, like other PVRs, is functionality of the goods, not a service. Quite unreasonably, Sky remotely disables this functionality if you stop paying an unrelated subscription for its services or if your Sky box can’t receive a signal to confirm that you are paying the unrelated subscription. This practice by Sky is deceptive; it is disingenuous of Sky to disable functionality of goods owned by a third party by virtue of that third party not paying a subscription for unrelated services.

Member

I regard TV as inessential to everyday life – I can take it or leave it. Many programmes are mindless rubbish. As for those many that begin with the warning “Contains violence and strong language” – why, oh why are we obsessed with such stuff? And the cost of Sky seems a ludicrous extravagance. So Freeview for us, miss a programme – too bad. Buy worthwhile DVDs. Far more important things in life to worry about. So I’d cancel your subscription, deprive Rupert of some income, and take up a hobby or read a good book.
OK – I’m in a cynical Christmas mood.

Member

I really cannot understand why any sane person actually pays to receive a service which is available free.
PVR’s are cheap and good, the service (terestial for me,satellite an option) is good and free, unless you are into whatever it is you can’t get free!
All transmissions are affected by weather, at 12 Ghz rain (between the dish and satellite, not the drops falling on the dish) fade is considerable. A sensible sized dish, a good LNB and correct alignment to the centre of the satellite drift zone will eliminate most problems.
Dropout more than once or twich a year should not be acceptable.

Member

While I don’t watch “live” TV anymore (I only watch Catch-up & save having to pay the Licence fee), I did used to have Sky TV and each time we had a storm, snow, pretty much anything it would go off and have a error message on the screen. It was annoying as hell, especially with how much Sky costs.

I think if I had Freesat (think it’s called) with no monthly fee it would be less annoying? Not sure.

Member

I watch so little live TV that I like to think of my licence fee as supporting BBC radio, particularly Radio 4. I was thinking of getting a smart TV to watch iPlayer on a larger screen than my computer but from what has been posted on a recent Conversation, it might not be long before the hardware was obsolete.

Member

“I was thinking of getting a smart TV to watch iPlayer on a larger screen than my computer but from what has been posted on a recent Conversation, it might not be long before the hardware was obsolete.”

I agree with you 100% wavechange, I am looking for a new TV (for my playstation’s) and wanted a smart TV so I could watch IPlayer too.

But due to another post on Which? saying how these smart TVs that are only a few years old no longer work with IPlayer it’s put me off. So thinking about just getting a normal TV and a lead to connect my laptop to the TV for iplayer.

Member

That’s my plan too, Lee. My TV does not have an HDMI port, just a VGA connection, so I need a new TV. I remember saying that last Christmas too. 🙁

Member

So you’re happy to watch iplayer (which is of course the BBC) but you don’t want to pay the licence fee! So who is to fund your ability to watch the programmes that are on iplayer? The rest of us of course would appear to be your premise.

Member

This topic is not on the BBC IPlayer and the licence fee.

Member

But like all conversations it meanders, and as the question of iPlayer was raised it seems perfectly proper to question watching publicly-funded material without contributing to it?

Member

You do not need a licence to watch IPlayer, so i don’t have a licence. I am doing nothing wrong here.

Member

This was not a personal comment (except to comment on your assertion as to what this conversation was about 🙂 ). It is perhaps a question of whether it is a loophole that needs plugging. Currently the legislation is :
“If you use the BBC iPlayer to watch TV programmes at the same time as they are being shown on TV (live) then you will need to be covered by a valid TV Licence. If you use the BBC iPlayer to watch BBC programmes after they have been broadcast either to download or via streaming on demand then you will not need a TV Licence.”
However, if you buy a smart TV it is, presumably, capable of receiving live BBC programmes and you will, I believe, require a license.

Member

I’m not sure you would need a licence just for owning a smart TV; it’s only when you use it for watching live broadcast television programmes that not having a licence becomes a criminal offence. It can be used without needing a licence as a peripheral device [including by connecting the aerial and tuning it to digital radio broadcasts]. Until June 2013 dealers were under a legal obligation to notify the TV Licensing Authority of the the purchaser’s name and address when anybody bought a TV. This requirement was abolished under the bonfire of the regulations but TV Licensing still maintains a database and does follow-up checks about every two years to see whether the ‘no licence needed’ status has changed.The BBC is alert to the implications of the avoidance of licence-holding [they call it “evasion” which is not strictly correct if there is no contravention occurring] through the new technological opportunities and it will no doubt be seeking amendments to the legal framework in order to stem the loss of revenue. I couldn’t manage without a licence because nearly everything I watch is not available on catch-up or, if it is, its availability does not suit my schedules.

Member

It’s true about the visits, I’ve had the blokes round 3-4 times since 2008. They even ask you to turn TV’s on to prove that no “live” TV is there, I only hook mine upto the Playstations so have always been safe.

I can’t see myself going back to “live” TV, I always used to miss tv shows, now i just curl up with my laptop and watch the shows I like, when I like. No more having to live to a TV guide 🙂

Member

Capability presumably means connection to an aerial or dish?

Member

So far as I can see, the capability of the set-up is not the issue and connecting a TV set to an aerial or satellite dish does not in itself render it licensable. It is the actual fact of receiving a live broadcast [i.e. being appropriately tuned] that invokes the licence requirement. Being ultra-cautious, if using it to listen to a radio broadcast, I think one would have to be careful with the tuning to ensure that no viewable TV signal got caught while performing the channel selection [although that would only be momentary and unlikely to get spotted by a TV licence enforcement officer].

I find the PVR does the best job of capturing the stuff we really want to see and holding it for us until we are ready to watch it. OK, we have to programme it in advance but it can be set to record entire series even if the episodes jump about all over the schedules.

Member

Some channels aren’t watchable for me even if there’s a single cloud in the sky. ITV that means you! Typically when they’re covering a football match I want to watch.

Luckily most things get repeated a few thousand times over the course of a week, so if I miss something due to bad weather I can watch it when it repeats,

Its a shame that the sky box can’t work out when a recording is interrupted and automatically set itself to record a repeat.

Similarly for Anytime its a shame you can’t force the silly box to re-acquire a programme that’s been weather affected. But since Sky are only out to make money for themselves its not surprising.

Member

If that is the case William Then you should check the level and the quality of the signal. You can have a 100 % signal but if the quality is below an average of 45 % then =no or broke up signal .You need your installation looked into. If you have the money (and they are not dear ) buy a 80 or 90 CM dish with a high quality LNB and if you are capable run a higher quality co-ax to the LNB. This isnt that dear and will last for years . I should mention -do you have a clear view of the horizon ,is it blocked by trees/buildings ? It doesnt matter how big the dish if the signal is blocked then no TV.

Member

When my dish has a coating of snow there is no satellite signal. This is just plain physics.

Member

Some people put a sawn-off plastic water bottle over the LNB.
Will this prevent a build-up of snow?

Member
Alan O'Brien says:
20 December 2014

Our Sky + HD box is connected permanently to our broadband router. Surely this should enable Sky to confirm our sub is valid even when the satellite signal is interrupted?

Member
Robin Miles says:
20 December 2014

If you are in a cabled area you could switch to Virgin Media – not affected by the weather and their Tivo Box can record three programmes at the same time

Member
Richard Daves says:
21 December 2014

I think it’s iniquitous that sky block access to existing recordings when your subscription finishes. They were made whilst you held a valid subscription, and I can see blocking the recording capability going forward, but you paid to receive and view those programs so why shouldn’t you continue to watch them?

Member

Richard this is intriguing, if true its very small minded and bad customer approach by Sky .I pick up several old Sky boxes from car-boot sales not for use as the programs received without a card only cover part of freeview ,but to remove the HDD from them which I use for other purposes. I havent found any blocking when used that way so it must be SKY blocking it from downloaded digital signals to the firmware of the unit. The only other possibility would be a built in time lapse in detecting official signals in the unit somewhat like M$ and their approval or not of your Windows installation.

Member
Derek Drapper says:
22 December 2014

I agree. Can we have a reply from Sky, please.? What right have they to stop us watching programmes we have paid to watch on equipment we have paid for?

Member
Tensiletester says:
21 December 2014

What a load of rubbish. Which, I believe that you have done a great disservice in raising such an inconsequential topic.
In reality how often do such outages occur? I have been a SKY subscriber for over ten years and I cannot remember my service being interrupted due to weather conditions once. Also recordings are rarely lost as SKY do provide the facility to archive recordings on a suitable DVD recorder.
It is important to remember that the dish,LNB and all cabling is the responsibility of the subscriber, perhaps a little maintenance might help. As for the member who is receiving Freeview from his dish I am surprised to hear that this is possible!
I was shocked to read that there seems to be a number of contributors keen to evade paying a licence fee, how are programmes to be made by the BBC without advertising? I struggle to understand this something for nothing mentality.
For anyone concerned about their Smart TV losing it’s capability to receive I player etc. I suggest they consider the excellent Now TV box which provides catch up capability for all channels 1-5 for the princely sum of £9.99 requiring only a wireless internet signal.

Member

I dont like the tone of your post. People come here for help not to get slagged off and if you didnt know that freeview is available on SATELLITE then you are not well up on current technical events aimed at the public . For the record =one of my dishes faces -ASTRA 28 degrees this takes in satellite freeview -known as FREESAT and SKY transmissions .Did you think that SKY had a satellite all of its own ?? transmitting at a different frequency ?? not true ! .They BOTH come down the SAME satellite at the SAME frequency just a division of that signal . Do you work for Sky ? This is how M$ behave when anybody questions their tactics or authority .

Member

I was under the impression that Freeview came via an aerial, and Freesat via a dish. Freesat had a broader range of programmes than Freeview; has it still?
Having looked at Sky, and not being a sports fan, I found the rest of its offering pretty unappealing. At hundreds of pounds a year subscription I can find better uses for my cash, including buying DVDs of the decent films I’d like to watch more than once. I’d also rather do a hobby than sit on the couch!
I know – bah humbug.

Member

I have had Sky for many years and it has always worked for me regardless of the weather. It does strike me that this may be a mute point if the future of TV reception is over the Internet. I have tried Now TV and it was not useable because Sky’s servers dropped out regularly, but I now have Netflix and similar services on an Apple TV and I am wondering if Sky is worth the money given that we hardly seem to watch it anymore.

Member

Freesat was touted by the government as quote =the satellite version of freeview in plain language there is little difference .Yes Freesat has more programs has more but the crucial point is that it has 95 % of Freeview programmes and also you have all the regional variations of the UK.To me its splitting hairs to say they are different in program detail. The Westminster government had a lot of complaints from people in rural areas saying=we cant get Freeview when it first came out -the answer from the government ?? then get Freesat . Again for the record I also have a dish facing Astra 19 -German satellite ,unlike the UK the German government is more Democratic /Socialist so many films etc that wouldnt be shown on UK tv for free are shown there for free as well as non-HD Eurosport which I watch for FREE if the word free upsets some neo-cons -too bad !

Member
David F says:
22 December 2014

I have to laugh at the comment “It is important to remember that the dish, LNB and all cabling is the responsibility of the subscriber, perhaps a little maintenance might help.”

As an ex-telecoms/satellite engineer myself, I wonder what maintenance could be performed by Joe public? It would be too easy for someone to needlessly attempt to clean their dish and knock it further out of alignment as this is pretty much all most people could do. Not many would have the ability to unnecessarily re-make the connections or re-tape them up with the correct waterproof tape (they would probably use insulation tape if they were to try).

As for customers losing signal in bad weather, It happens more often than you obviously realize and often there is nothing the customer could have done to prevent it. I moved into my house and utilized the existing dish, LNB and cable initially but had bad weather outages.
I replaced the dish, LNB and cables and ensured as near to perfect adjustment as possible and still suffer outages during exceptionally bad weather, even when I clear the snow from the LNB and dish (I cannot do anything about the moisture and snow that is above my house degrading my signals). My cabling is high quality and well insulated with good quality connections and self amalgamating tape, all performed to IPC-WHMA-620 (if they had a standard for F connections). I even bought high quality single coax for the front room rather than shotgun used for the back room and both the front room and back room lose signal at a similar time.

When I worked for a factory which made LNB’s, I know they have to meet a specific criteria but can normally perform much better. In the factory, it could take 30 seconds to get it to meet specification but could take another minute to calibrate to its maximum potential but this is not costed in so they never do. Therefore, one LNB could be considerably better than another one from the same production line.

Maybe you are lucky and got one of the better LNB’s

Member
Timmy Trident says:
5 January 2015

Just to clear up the common confusion regarding Freesat and Freeview.

These are two different services offering different channel choices.

For viewing through a TV (ignoring mobile/tablet/smart tv apps etc.), the following applies:

Freesat is received via a satellite dish only

Freeview is received through an aerial only.
See Freeview.co.uk for confirmation

We have both, and our preferred choice is Freeview. It must be borne in mind that we live in a good signal area though. Both the channel (quality) choice and picture quality with Freeview HD is, in our opinion, better. Freesat has more channels but, how do I put this, “never mind the quality, feel the width”?. Regarding picture quality, don’t take my word for it but have look around the technical sites that explain why (two words – signal compression).

The Now TV box provides both free and subscription services. We have one to watch Sky Sports live football with a £7-£10 day pass and, even being connected via superfast fibre-optic broadband, feel that the picture quality, at least watching live football, is barely acceptable. I’ve also noticed that if a match is being shown in late afternoon (running after 5:30pm-ish), we suffer from picture stutter and temporary freezing (peak time use being the culprit, I suspect). Very annoying.

Member

Timmy watch our for your neighbour piggy-backing your wi-fi signal I changed my connection to LAN and blocked the wireless signal. Many small apps on the net that show who is on your router/modem you would be surprised if you live in a congested area with many neighbours . There is even apps for those who want to connect via their neighbour. You shouldnt get picture stutter /freezing if you are on superfast broadband contact your ISP otherwise you are paying for something that is not up to the mark as advertised.

Member

I tried both Now TV and Netflix about 6 months ago when I wanted an Internet based solution for watching films. My experience was that Now TV regularly froze or stuttered, but Netflix worked fine given exactly the same conditions (I had the accounts at the same time). I settled on Netflix and it has worked fine for me since. I can only assume Sky have capacity problems which they may iron out in time but I’m happy.

Member
Tensiletester says:
21 December 2014

For the record I do not work for Sky.
As for not being well up on technical matters, Freesat is not satellite Freeview it may be described as an equivalent but the two companies have different owners. One of the Freeview owners being BSkyB.
I have no wish to s**g anyone off although I don’t believe I did.
The main reason for my contribution was to query the suggestion that 68% of SKY users regularly experience service interruptions due to poor weather.

Member

I think people might have taken exception to your comment “I was shocked to read that there seems to be a number of contributors keen to evade paying a licence fee, how are programmes to be made by the BBC without advertising? I struggle to understand this something for nothing mentality.” As I tried to explain previously, people who do not use a smart TV for live viewing of broadcast programmes but use it as a peripheral monitor connected to a PC so they can watch catch-up TV do not require a licence and are therefore not evading payment of the licence fee. No doubt in due course the government will have to apply its mind to how to address this potential revenue loss [probably by 2017 when the BBC’s charter comes up for renewal] but until then it is the right of any UK citizen to hitch a TV to a computer or other device and watch TV on demand as available to anyone watching via the relevant broadcaster’s website.

Member

I will repeat =what difference is there between Freesat and Freeview apart from the means of delivery . So what if there are two different owners I own a Ford car so does one of my neighbours both the same model -does that make his car different from mine ?? My dishes are over 80 CM in bad weather the quality drops from 85 % down to 73 % now just think of the same thing happening to 1000s of Sky users who ALL have the standard small dish .This is why this website is filled with complaints from Sky users there isnt a standard fulfilled by Sky when it comes to areas and people in non-ideal conditions Sky like any other business want paid and the shareholders arent going to say =dont install in bad reception areas they want a rise in share prices not a more humanitarian approach . Are you going to say the SKY installer gets equal 100 % signal and 100 % quality in every installation .NO they arent and remember its Quality of signal that counts more than strength of signal . 100 % signal -40 % quality =NO signal.

Member

Freeview,Freestat and Freesat-from-Sky are three differrent delivery platforms, although many of the TV channels are the same.
If we want to help people with their reception problens, I think it’s best to use the correct terminology and so avoid causing more confusion.
Is that OK ?

Member

duncan lucas,

I am very interested in what you were saying about re-using the HDDs of old SKY+ boxes.

One of the reasons I don’t use a SKY+ box is because there is no high-speed dub from HDD to DVD.

Did you find that you could connect the HDD to, for example, a PC and play the old recordings from there?

If so, this might be a good way of backing-up to DVD at faster than real-time.

Member

Hello Sid, believe it or not some people are actually making money out of this by selling them to PC owners .Dont bother with the old white boxes not enough Gigs .Later boxes have from 500G to 1 T gig . You buy a HUB from Maplin (sata only ) which does for mechanical HDD,s and the later SSD,s which is my main drive in mine and using a USB 2/3 cable plug it into the USB socket on your PC. Make sure M$ recognises the new drive- click control panel then devices and REFORMAT the drive (M$ built in program will do it for you or your own program and then you are “good to go ” as the Americans say . DVD is now being labelled “old technology” its all downloads from the web including CD,s SSD,s are still expensive but the old mechanical drives are cheap.

Member

Hi Duncan,
Thanks very much for the details of re-using SKY HDDs.
By the by, I’m staying with DVDs for my wife’s sake. Dementia is gradually eroding her ability to cope with new processes.
Back on topic – I would also be interested to know if you can rip the SKY recordings from the HDD.
This may help those with SKY+ boxes that refuse to playback their existing recordings.

Member

HI Sid -That was the first thing I tried after removing the drive from the Sky box but hit compatibility issues which blocked me so I was forced to format it before M$ recognised it for use by the system. . I am not saying it cant be done as some companies recover data from broken HDD,s but the cost is astronomical (100,s of £££) but if anybody knows how then let us all know now. Sorry to hear about your wife my cousin a few years younger than me developed dementia due to narrowing of the frontal lobe arteries caused by drinking it was a shock to me when I heard he was being looked after in a psychiatric hospital and that he would never leave it alive .I cried as he was previously a college lecturer.Sad.

Member

I should have added Sid that my D drive is an old HHD taken from a SKY box and its still okay after more than a year-temperature low- Get Speccy from Piriform that gives a detailed view of all your hardware and networks etc.(only from their own website) beware of malware !

Member
Dinty says:
22 December 2014

It is not just Sky customers that are affected.
I am a Virgin customer and find it very frustrating that when there is a problem with the CABLE signal to my TIVO box I am unable to watch recorded shows. As these are stored on the boxes internal hard drive I find this situation difficult to understand. This can happen even when already watching a recording.

Member

Dinty there are many complaints about SKY/Virgin/BT etc on the web in relation to once they cease their contracts they are unable to use the HDD to view recorded programmes before the rental ceased. Part of the HDD is separated from the main section and is used to control the box be it Sky or others .A digital signal is sent out to the firmware either via the air or in your case by cable if that signal is interrupted it looks to the box that your not paying your rental. This is a mistake that only your provider can rectify its like if you install Windows for the first time it must connect to the internet to check with M$ that your copy is legit if not no updates etc . On Sky complaints websites its full of customers leaving SKY but other companies do the same . If you had satellite using a Free-sat box you can buy a SKY card and get SKY channels or any other supplier of programmes card and watch and record without getting this problem.Many companies in the Free-sat magazine to contact. I use a Technomate box but you can use the popular Humax brand

Member

I’m amazed: lost signal? I’ve NEVER lost my Freesat signal which uses the same satellite. I’m using an octo-LNB too. I suggest there is a receiving dish or cabling problem to lose the signal ‘for hours at a time’.

Member

Going off on a slight tangent, but still about Sky boxes. Can anyone explain why every Sept/Oct, Mar/Apr the box needs “rebooting” and a few odd time inbetween. I’m guessing its still weather related, but there’s typically no bad weather. Rebooting usually cures it for a day or 5, yet a few weeks later it’ll work happily for months. Although they do “lock” up but that’s just cheap programming on Sky’s part.

Member

William-head to SKY =www.community.sky.com=type in why do I have to re-boot my sky box regularly or type =why do sky boxes need rebooting and take your pick of a long range of answers ranging from a SKY outage to not being kept updated (a long list ) These SKY boxes seem to be either very temperamental or SKY is as bad as M$ ,s “trusted installer “” when installing updates and then you get blue screened or the compatibility program ( a big trojan in disguise ) tells you it doesnt like you installing a program that isnt M$ approved (it can be blocked for peace of mind ) but not in new Win 8.1/ 10 .

Member

May I turn this conversation onto satellite broadband, a similar service I am investigating at the moment?

As background, I occasionally work from home and need a good broadband service to access my work files which are hosted on a Citrix server. I recently upgraded from ADSL to Fibre Broadband. However there is often a lengthy gap of up to 30 seconds between pressing a key and seeing a response on screen This effectively makes working from home impossible.

Although I live within the M25 I am told by Plusnet that the 2.1km wire from the ‘exchange’ to my house means that my Fibre Broadband upload speed of around 0.6 mbps is no better and possibly worse than the cheaper ADSL service which I had previously. Plusnet, have informed me that there is nothing it can do to improve these upload speeds. Ping speeds are equally bad.

On the assumption that that my only alternative is satellite broadband, I would be interested to hear anyone’s views on this service. Are they reliable and are they likely to improve my upload and ping speeds? I cant find any Which? reviews on satellite broadband service providers.

[As a separate question, perhaps for another conversation, am I right to be a little suspicious of the information I have received from Plusnet on Fibre Broadband and, if it is likely to be right, is this more expensive service being missold to those of us who don’t live in towns?]

Member

The question on performance is difficult to diagnose remotely, but how does your fibre results compare to your ADSL results?

The information that you are 2.1km to your nearest exchange is irrelevant. If your area has BT fibre coverage, it means that the connections between the Exchange to the street Cabinets have all been replaced by fibre and are effectively lossless. So the degradation occurs on the copper connection from your home to the street Cabinet. Previously when you were on ADSL2, the degradation was all the way back to the Exchange because it was all over copper, so by switching from ADSL2 to FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet), you eliminate the copper losses from the Exchange to the Cabinet and should get much better ADSL speed and response.

So someone is telling porky pies or has no idea what they are talking about.

Don’t go for the satellite option. Satellite has massive, unavoidable delays which kill response times and will definitely be unsatisfactory. I suggest that you investigate the location of you nearest street Cabinet and calculate the distance. Then armed with this information escalate the fault with Plusnet.

Finally, if you go to the BT Broadband sales site, you can enter your phone number and postcode and it will give you an estimate of the speed you should get at your address. It usually is a reasonable (though not accurate) guide.

Member

Hugh Terfar has given good advice he is quite right to say that with fibre the “exchange ” is actually represented by the street cabinet.No,if,buts,or maybe,s my exchange is 1.5 miles from me ,my cabinet 2 is just over a 100 yards (as the crow fly’s ) .I got FTTC a month ago it made a vast difference I am on the top Infinity 2 . Downloads are very fast and internet browsing is much faster . What also counts is the loop resistance between the cabinet and your master socket . How good is your internal wiring ? is your router plugged into the master socket ,if not that can have an effect . To stop any arguments with BT I ran cat 4e with twisted pairs from my master socket 2 feet from my PC and router(HH5) this runs Directly out my window to a O/H lead-in joint .No internal wiring in house only 2 dect cordless phones. Also check that your master socket hasnt a small capacitor still inside it (bell circuit ) if so cut it away.As a user of over 20 years of satellite use non-Sky -Freesat /and other sats I too would not advise broadband by sat. Its expensive ,you need a big dish for good reception and very bad weather can effect it. I never got to metres /centimeters etc I take it that translates as just over a mile as Terfar says is that the Exchange or the cabinet ,if exchange then the cab will be a lot nearer so somebody it trying to put “one over on you ” Its ONLY counts in FTTC from the cabinet to your house thats the ONLY thing ,apart from faulty house wiring that counts . Your ISP seems a bit “tricky ” .

Member

Snow affects my reception and has done for several years. What is more worrying is that moderately hot weather also causes a reception loss. I have reported this to Sky but I don’t think they believe me. Once the sun goes down reception comes back. Also, strangely, it doesn’t affect “terrestrial” channels that come through my sky satellite system, but only “Sky” channel!!

Member

The channels available on a Sky receiver don’t come from a single satellite but a handful in almost, but not exactly the same place in the sky. If you get poor signal on a group of channels when the weather is poor, your dish may be pointing to left or right edge of the cluster rather than the middle.

Member

Dave-JS has a point but normal satellite installation by an engineer is that the dish is pointed towards the weakest signal so that they average out . I just checked my non-SKY 28 Astra -Freesat dish and yes freesat -freeview programs output a signal Goodness of 85 % and signals relating to the equivalent programs that SKY output are 73 % but even in bad weather there is no drop out as my dishes are much larger than the standard Sky dish. Dont take that to mean a larger dish has a better signal than a smaller size if the SKY dish is set up correctly the SIGNAL strength will be the same BUT its the Goodness that counts this should be displayed as is my Technomate box in percentage terms on a display of that program. The problem is a smaller dish has to be aimed more accurately for best reception and as has been said even a small knock on the angle of the dish can put goodness at 45 % or less and then no picture.Yes it is worrying about no reception in warm weather normally its the other way around when metal contracts it causes a disconnection on a termination . Check the termination on the LNB / re-terminate it ,as you say snow can have a big effect so can a bird sitting on the arm of the dish. First off check the signal strength AND the Goodness percentages (both different ) on your SKY box the instructions should tell you how to see them and get back. I almost forgot ,do you have a clear view of the Southern horizon ?

Member

The Astra satellite 28.2°E is in reality a cluster of 4 colocated satellites (Astra a, b, c and d). They carry far more services than just Sky and Freesat. But the Sky and Freesat satellite transmitting dish (up on the satellite) are aimed to provide a signal footprint that covers the UK.

Most of the UK should be able to receive a quality signal using a standard 45 cm dish. If you lose signal except under exceptional circumstances (such as massive electrical storms in your area) I would suspect something wrong with your installation.

Get a reliable (recommended) aerial installer to come and check it out. It could be that the dish has moved a little out of alignment, water ingress in the LNB/coax or there’s just a kink or fault in the coax cable run. Satellite signals are comparatively weak compared to terrestrial broadcast signals, so the dish antenna has 100+ times the gain of the average yagi antenna. It also has a much tighter beamwidth – which is why it needs to be accurately aligned. Larger dishes have even narrower beamwidth, so need sturdier mounting and really accurate alignment. And the coax connecting the receiver to the LNB (Low Noise Blockdown converter) are all part of the aerial tuning, so are just as important as the dish itself.

Unless there is an obvious local problem such as a trees or buildings blocking your line of site or some industrial process causing interference, every home in the UK should be able to get reliable, quality pictures for Freesat and Sky.

Member

We have had repeated problems with the sky signal. At the slightest breath of wind (not an exaggeration) the programmes are interrupted. There is a thin tall tree with minimal thin branches about 9 metres away from the dish in its line of sight. Can this be the cause? Sky are on last chance saloon to fix this with an engineer arriving tomorrow. If it’s not fixed this time once and for all we are moving to Virgin. (Interesting to note for all readers: Sky wanted to charge for the engineer visit. When I said I wasn’t happy I was put on hold for 2 mins then offered it at a discount of £20. When I said I wasn’t going to pay anything otherwise I would leave sky, I was again put on hold for 2 mins and then given a free call out). Totally fed up with trying to resolve our issues with sky and am starting to think that satellite systems are just not up to the job so cable is the only way forward. Will soon know.

Member

Yes it could be the trees. Satellite signals are weak. The dish gain may be high, but it needs a good signal to amplify. You may have to lop the tree or relocate the dish.

Member

Tim,

Have you got time to send one more email?

Briefly and politely summarise your story to Mr Barney Francis, CEO Sky UK. Email barney.francis@bskyb.com Then request his help.

I hope that you will find that Sky suddenly become more responsive to the point of amazement.

Good luck,………..Topher

Member
john tottman says:
5 January 2015

My Sky dish is on a 6 foot pole connected to a bracket bolted to the side of my house. It loses the signal in wind or rain or even when a bird flies past to close. We have had an engineer look at it and he said it should not have been erected like that and it will cost to rectify it. .As the original installer is no longer trading (I wonder why?) we cannot get him to rectify it.

Member

There is an industrial standard for a satellite dish connected to a steel pole and attached to the side of a house .The pole must be a certain thickness ,there must be at least 2 brackets holding it to the building and the structure of your house bricks must be taken into account as many bad jobs have seen large parts of a house building bricks ripped away in very bad weather . It is not generally recommended to attach poles to houses for a dish especially if the dish is large. If a flying bird effects the signal then the goodness /quality of the signal is not good . It sounds like an amateur job my large dishes have short poles and are attached to 2/3 feet thick old sandstone wall with 3 holding brackets even so in a gale one dish was nearly ripped off the wall and I used large steel industrial rawlbolts it took 2 feet of wall away. There is a UK satellite magazine which warns against fitting long poles in your situation it takes very little to lose the signal if the dish moves .It is recommended that a ground pillar is sunk deep into the soil and a thick steel pole cemented in as well as additional brackets.

Member
Mike.W says:
15 January 2015

Sigh, I see that SKY is taking the brunt of poor service and technology. They are not alone, Virgin Media has now deteriorated to the standard of reception and service that SKY provides if not worse. During bad weather some stations just pixilate. but worst of all it can take 30sec and some times longer just to switch on and switch off the TIVO box and when requesting on demand it can take up to a minute let alone recording programmes that you never asked for but what is most annoying is the different levels of volume of different channels that are recorded. Is my box faulty? No, they changed it. Same old performance Broadband is better than most but their servers must be struggling to cope. Mail seems to go haywire just when you need it. Virgin Media has changed hands now its really pathetic compared to the good old days. Come back Richard.

Member

Uuummmmmmm…………………

We the customers of Sky have known this for more than 15+ years!

It is NOT NEWS.

Note – over the air digital also drops out and so does DAB radio.

Strangely – Analogue never did, which proves the adage ‘Keep it simple Stupid’

Member
scruffydog says:
14 March 2015

I have bought a second hand Sky+ HD box with old card and want to know if I can just connect it up and get HD channels. I am still subscribing to SKY. Do I need the card from the HD box or my card from my SKY+ box?

Member

Hi scruffydog, thanks for your message – I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had some problems with your Sky+ HD box. In your position, I’d definitely get in touch with Sky directly about this matter:

http://help.sky.com/

Member

I have been receiving satellite TV since 2009, I’ve not been using Sky but Freesat which uses the same satellite, the only “upgrade” that I specified at the time of its profesional installation was a Northern UK spec dish which is larger; I have a four feed LNB.
Throughout this time I’ve always used Humax, I started with just a receiver and currently I have a Humax HDR-1000S 1TB PVR, I’ve have only two losses of signal and on both occasions program loss was of a short duration with no ongoing problems. On both occasions loss of signal was down to multi-layered cloud from near the surface to the tropopause in association with heavy rain; I’m a retired meteorologist..