Sky Launches U.K. Mobile Service to Offer Quadruple Play Like Rivals BT, Virgin Media

Courtesy of Sky

21st Century Fox recently struck a deal to take full control of the European pay TV giant.

European pay TV giant Sky said Thursday that its previously unveiled Sky Mobile service in the U.K. is now available to buy.

The launch comes as pay TV and telecom services continue to converge to offer consumers a so-called "quadruple play," or quad play, of video, broadband, telephony and mobile services. Analysts see that as a new weapon in Sky's arsenal against such rivals as British telecom powerhouse BT and cable firm Virgin Media, which is part of John Malone's Liberty Global.

Prices start at £10, or $12.31, per month for 1GB of data and go up to 5GB for £20, or $24.62.

Sky says that its push into the wireless space is providing Britain's "newest and most flexible mobile service" that addresses issues facing wireless users in the country, including the finding that almost 20 million people are "overbuying mobile data they don’t use and therefore end up losing it each month" out of fear of being overcharged.

The company cites research that says 72 percent of those buying unnecessary data end up losing around 1GB of their allowance every month. "That’s the equivalent of losing out on downloading 200 songs or 500 photos, browsing 10,000 websites or watching two hours of video," it said.

21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake in Sky and recently struck a deal, which will be reviewed by regulators, to take full control of it. 

"With Sky Mobile we’ve provided the solution, offering flexibility and great value so our customers’ unused data will be theirs to keep and they can create a plan that’s right for them, month to month," said Stephen van Rooyen, U.K. and Ireland CEO at Sky. "And there’s even more benefits for Sky TV customers with free U.K. calls and texts, plus the ability to sync with their Sky+ box.”

Sky Mobile has four key features. Roll allows customers to roll over any unused data into an online "piggybank" each month to use whenever they need for up to three years, while Mix lets customers create a plan that’s right for them and that they can change every month. The Save feature means Sky TV customers don’t have to pay for U.K. calls or texts with any Sky Mobile data plan, while Sync brings Sky TV recordings to their phone in a personal playlist.

Sky is using Telefonica’s O2 network for the service, making it a "low-cost acquisition model targeting existing Sky TV customers and non-data heavy users," said Liberum Capital analyst Ian Whittaker. But he concluded that only time would tell whether the service will succeed, saying: "Sky Mobile does not appear a game-changer."