More thoughts on Skinny Broadband

If you don’t need fibre speeds or large amounts of data my review found Skinny Broadband is a good low cost alternative. While it’s possible to get speeds of 40 Mbps, I could only get 25 Mbps at home.

Coverage

Readers ask how they can know in advance if they’ll get decent speeds. Skinny says it offers a money back guarantee so you can test the service for 30 days to check it works for you.

Before going to the trouble, there’s a simple tool on the Skinny site that tells you if you can get a connection. You can also check the Spark 4G coverage map — Skinny Broadband uses the Spark 4G network.

In theory, the darker the pink, the better reception you’ll get at your home. In practice, you need to be careful. At one level the map shows my house is in a pink zone, but I only get so-so coverage. If I zoom in to the highest resolution, the coverage map shows my house only gets ‘fair’ 4G reception.

Antennae

There are antennae sockets on the back of the Skinny Broadband modem, but no antennae in the box. The sockets are hidden by a plastic lid.

According to the documentation in the modem box, you can buy the antennae separately. I asked Skinny about this. Skinny doesn’t sell the antennae. It doesn’t seem keen on the ideas. According to Skinny: “The testing we did showed they provided little material improvement to the speed.”

That could be right. I found a spare antennae I had from another product, it made no improvement. Although tempted, I decided not to attempt running a cable to the roof and mounting a higher antennae. There’s only so much I’m prepared to do in the name of science.

If I was going to stick with Skinny Broadband, I’d experiment with a home-made Yagi antennae. If anyone has done this I’d be keen to hear about it.

One problem I have here is that where I live is not yet covered by 700 MHz 4G, the local signal seems to be 1800 MHz, which has different characteristics.

One other good piece of advice I had from Skinny was to locate the modem as far as possible from other electronic equipment. I found I got better speed, 25 Mbps instead of the 20 or so I could see, when I moved the modem to a room without any computers, servers or routers.

Value

Even though the speed isn’t great at home, I’m almost tempted by Skinny Broadband. For me the deal breaker is the 60GB data cap.

While this is more than my household would use most months, there are times when we go way, way over. When I do a big cloud backup we might use close to a terabyte. That might happen twice a year. Then there are times when we have visitors and the data load jumps.

There’s no way to accomodate that kind of data consumption with wireless broadband.

I understand my use is far from typical. While Skinny Broadband may not suit your needs or my needs, the data cap is plenty for average users. Your parents might appreciate it even if you don’t. I’m already recommending it to people I know who are light data users.

2 thoughts on “More thoughts on Skinny Broadband

  1. Thanks for the follow up post. I think I am going to need Skinny broadband soon for one-off use.

    Your review is helpful.

  2. My daughter signed up for it while she is at Auckland Uni, she is in an apartment block who charge exorbitant prices for their internet access, so they have signed up for the 60gb plan. Makes a good solution for apartment users.

    With the coverage map, it also needs to be kept in mind that the map is for ground level. My daughter is 7 floors up, and even thought the map said it was “limited” they are getting a strong signal and are very happy with it.

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