Broadcaster Sky will enter the UK mobile market with a SIM-only plan allowing users to roll-over unused data allowances each month, but somewhat surprised by opting not to bundle the package with its TV, fixed-line and broadband assets.

In the much anticipated launch, Sky said “it was time to shake-up the mobile market”, by offering customers the ability to keep their unused data for up to three years, a first for the UK, and “piggybank” unused data each month.

It said the mobile service focused on “flexibility”, addressing the fact that UK consumers, on average, use less than half of the mobile data they buy each month, with £2 billion wasted a year.

However, it bucked a growing trend by deciding not to offer “quad-play” services – mobile, fixed-line, broadband and Pay-TV – under one single package. In turn, those that sign up to Sky Mobile will receive a separate bill to other Sky services they use.

The company will instead offer its existing Sky customers that use the service free calls and texts, but there is no sign at this stage that it will look to combine its media assets with mobile.

Notably, major rival BT, which bought the UK’s largest mobile operator EE, has offered customers of the mobile network free access to its BT Sports channel for a limited period of time.

Paolo Pescatore, director, multiplay and media at CCS Insight, said the decision not to bundle had left the research firm “somewhat underwhelmed” with Sky’s mobile offer.

“We feel that Sky has missed a trick by not placing greater focus on its biggest asset, content. Mobile network operators will breathe a sigh of relief given that Sky has decided not to go down the route of giving mobile away,” he said.

Sky said in a statement it had reached more than 46,000 pre-registration sign ups, and will offer handsets from Apple and Samsung, as well as other providers, in 2017.

Its cheapest tariff is priced at £10 for 1GB, then its £15 for 3GB and £20 per month for 5GB.

Non Sky TV customers can also add on unlimited calls and texts for £10 a month, or pay for the service on a pay as you go basis.

Sky will use O2’s network for its MVNO launch, but it will issue its own SIM cards and maintain its own customer relationships. It is entering a highly competitive market, with four mobile operators (EE, O2, 3 and Vodafone) as well as a raft of MVNOs.

EE bashes O2/Sky
O2 rival EE didn’t waste any time in attempting to spoil Sky’s party. In a media statement, EE said recent reports “have shown slow speeds and overall poor performance [for O2], particularly in the case of streaming video. Ofcom’s recent Smartphone Cities report showed that videos failed to load in high definition or at all on O2’s network in London around 30 per cent of the time, so customers on O2/Sky will suffer more network failures when watching anything from sport to film on the go than on any other network.”

It added: “Sky Mobile customers clearly won’t be getting the best experience, and O2 customers will likely see their service slow down even more as Sky customers use O2’s network.”