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How to fix Sky Q connectivity problems

David Ludlow
25 Mar 2020
Sky Q Box and Remote
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Getting a 'You can't watch TV right now as there is a connectivity problem' with Sky Q? Here's how to fix it

Sky Q is a highly impressive TV platform, especially in its multiroom format. It uses Wi-Fi to pump content around your house from TV box to TV box and can even be used as a mesh Wi-Fi system to ensure you have no dead spots at home.

It can, however, be a little fussy about the way you set it up, particularly if you decide you'd rather get your broadband from another provider. If you've been having a few problems with the system cutting out, then we're here to help with our guide to getting those problems sorted out.

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In this guide, we'll take you through what to do to get the most out of your Sky Q Mini and tablet streaming devices and, while you shouldn't need it with everything set up correctly, we'll also show you how to properly set up your Sky Q boxes on Ethernet.

Before we get into the real details, however, it's worth explaining how the system works. In our experience and from reading all the various advice on forum threads, the problems are largely caused by changes being made to a system that upset the way the Sky Q mesh network behaves. Tweak things the wrong way and it can cause issues with, or bypass completely, the mesh network used for streaming. We’ll explain why problems occur and, in the later sections of this article, how to properly configure your Sky Q system. Read on for the full story or jump straight to the bit you're interested in using the links below.

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How Sky Q's networking works

Sky Q uses a 5GHz mesh network for video streaming to Sky Q Mini boxes. A mesh network means that, in the system, every Sky Q device (main box, Mini boxes and boosters) acts as a booster, but it's the system that finds the most efficient and fastest way of transmitting data: your Sky Q Mini box in the bedroom, for example, might send its signal to a Sky Q Booster, which then sends it to the main box.

Mesh networks are often slower than a traditional network, but add reliability and boost overall coverage. For Sky Q, the latter points are the most important, as you only need enough bandwidth to stream HD and reliability is more important than speed. How the mesh network works depends on whether you have Sky broadband and a Sky Q hub, or a regular broadband connection. Please be wary of advice about disabling the 2.4GHz network, though.

You don't have Sky broadband

If you don't have Sky broadband or a Sky Q hub, your system works in a slightly different way. Your Sky Q Silver box connects to your router via 2.4GHz, to ensure that it works with every system. This means that download speeds to your Sky Q box are limited by the quality of your wireless network. All Sky Q Mini boxes also connect to your 2.4GHz network, which might seem a bit wrong. After all, aren’t they supposed to be 802.11ac 5GHz devices?

The answer is yes, but what you can’t see is that there’s also a 5GHz Sky mesh network running in the background, which is used for streaming. The 2.4GHz network connection to your router acts more as a backup, so a problem with 5GHz means that your boxes can continue streaming; however, in a properly functioning system all streaming should take place over 5GHz.

As robust as this system is, problems start to occur if you want to make changes. One of the most common ones is that people think that their Mini boxes are connected to a 2.4GHz network, so reset them, only to find that they can’t see their existing 5GHz network. This is entirely normal, as your existing 5GHz network doesn’t have the Quality of Service (QoS) or mesh networking abilities that Sky Q needs. This is why a hidden network is created.

The next mistake is that Mini boxes are then connected directly to the 2.4GHz network, as there seems to be no other option. Doing this joins the Mini to your 2.4GHz network only, and makes streaming unreliable and prone to interference.

A secondary problem is deciding to connect your main Sky box via Ethernet, as this can interfere with your mesh network. If you decide to use Ethernet from your main box, you need to properly configure your entire system again. This will disable 2.4GHz network connections, forcing the rest of the system to use the 5GHz band.

You have Sky broadband with the Sky Q Hub

If you’ve got the Sky Q Hub, your router also acts as part of the mesh network, and you get an additional feature: your Mini boxes act as Wi-Fi hotspots, repeating the same network name around your house and improving coverage. With this system, both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks have the same name.

One common problem is that people split the wireless networks, using the option in the Sky Q Hub’s networking settings, so that they can physically choose which network to join: the 5GHz network has less range, but is considerably faster. However, doing this causes problems, as it breaks down the mesh network and can force Sky Q Mini boxes to connect via 2.4GHz networks. For a stable system, you have to use the default settings.

While this does mean you can’t choose which network to connect to (2.4GHz or 5GHz), the system is supposed to intelligently choose which network your device should connect to. Connecting your main box via Ethernet can also cause problems, as you have to properly reconnect all of your Mini boxes and Boosters to your network, so that the mesh network can be rebuilt.

Sky Q Hub hero

Tablet devices and networking

If you’re streaming to tablets, you use your regular network connection and aren’t technically part of the mesh network. Any drop-outs or issues here will come purely down to the quality of your network connection and your network speed. If you've got Sky Broadband, you shouldn't have problems, as all of the Mini boxes act as hotspots. If you don't have Sky broadband, read my guide on how to extend Wi-Fi range.

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How to fix Sky Q problems if you don't have Sky Broadband

If you don’t have Sky broadband, you won’t have a Sky Q Hub. The default installation option is to have the main Sky box connected to your existing 2.4GHz network for internet access. Additional Sky Q Mini boxes connect to your 2.4GHz network and also to a hidden 5GHz mesh network.

1. Connect your main box your network

Your main Sky Q box should be connected to the internet via your 2.4GHz network. To check if it is, go to Settings, Network, Setup and highlight the Status box. If you see the name of your home network, your Sky Q box is set up correctly. If not, click Reset and then select Confirm. Select the option for non-Sky broadband, select your network from the list and then use the on-screen keyboard to enter your network’s password. Let your box connect to the network.

Sky Q Silver choose network to connect to

2. Sky Q Booster

The Booster helps transmit your mesh network around the house and should remain where the Sky engineer put it. If you’ve made any changes to your network, there’s a chance that your Booster is no longer working properly. To fix this, press and hold the reset button on the back until the power light starts flashing.

Wait until the wireless light turns solid green. Go to your Sky Q box and press and hold the WPS button (far right) until it flashes amber (around two seconds). Go back to the Booster and press and hold its WPS button (far right) until it flashes amber. After a short wait, the Sky Q Booster’s Connected light will turn solid green, showing that the Booster is part of the network.

Sky Q Booster reset button

3. Sky Q Mini box

It’s a little harder to tell if your Sky Q Mini box is connected to the mesh network, as viewing the network settings will just show you that it’s connected to your home’s 2.4GHz network. So, the easiest option is to go to Settings, Network, Setup and select the Reset option and then select Confirm.

Sky Q Mini reset screen

When your box restarts, click the Home button on the remote. Then, go to your main Sky Q box (or Sky Q Booster) and press and hold the WPS button (far right), until it goes orange. Your Sky Q Mini box will connect to the network, get an IP address and then it will start up and connect to your main box. Give the signal a while to settle down: the Mini box may default to the 2.4GHz network at the start, before connecting to the 5GHz network for a more stable connection. Repeat these steps for every Mini box on the network.

How to fix Sky Q problems if you have Sky Broadband

If you have a Sky internet connection, you’ll also have a Sky Q Hub. To make sure that everything’s working, you can’t split the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks on the Hub, and all of your devices need to be connected using WPS, in order to build the wireless mesh network correctly. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Combine the networks on the Hub

Both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks have to have the same name. If you’ve changed the network names, you need to reverse this decision. Log into your Hub’s home page and go to the Wi-Fi settings. Clicking between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz tabs, make sure that your 5GHz network has the same name as the 2.4GHz network and then save your settings.

2. Set up your main box

You need to connect your main Sky Q box to your Hub properly. To ensure there’s a connection, go to Settings, Network, Setup and select Reset and then Confirm. Follow the onscreen instructions to set up your main box, connecting it via the WPS buttons on the router and Sky Q box: press the WPS button on the router for a couple of seconds, and then press the WPS button on the Sky Q box for a couple of seconds (it's the button on the far right).

Sky Q Silver box hero

3. Set up the Sky Q Booster

There’s a good chance that the Sky Q Booster isn’t working if you’ve made other network changes. To fix this, press and hold the reset button on the rear until the power LED starts to flash. Wait until the wireless LED turns a solid green, then press and hold the WPS button (far right) on your Sky Q box until it flashes amber. Now, press and hold the WPS button on the Booster until it flashes amber. When the connected light turns on, your Booster is ready to go. Make sure the Booster is where the engineer located it.

Sky Q Booster reset button

4. Set up your Mini boxes

If you’ve made changes elsewhere, you should reset your Mini boxes’ wireless settings and reconnect them to the network. To do this, go to Settings, Setup, Network and select the Reset option, then select confirm. When the box restarts, press the Select button. Now, on the nearest Sky Q device that’s correctly configured (the main box or the Booster, most likely), press and hold the WPS button (far right) until the Amber light flashes. Your Sky Q Mini box should now pick up the network and connect. Repeat these steps for another Sky Q Mini box, if you have one. Please remember to give the boxes a little time to settle down: they may default to the 2.4GHz network on the first connection until the 5GHz network is established.

Sky Q Mini WPS

Sky Q: Should you disable 2.4GHz?

One of the main pieces of advice in the forums is to disable the 2.4GHz modes on the Sky Q Mini boxes. This forces the boxes to use 5GHz networking, which sounds great, but you shouldn't have to do this at all. In fact, in a properly set up Sky Q system, all streaming is performed over 5GHz, and 2.4GHz is only used for Wi-Fi hotspots, as a failover and for some updates. In other words, streaming problems are not caused by the 2.4GHz network!

In some cases, disabling 2.4GHz does nothing. However, there are some cases where you might want to disable this channel. I’ll show you how later on, but you need to understand the reasons first.

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You don’t have Sky broadband

If you don’t have Sky broadband, your Sky Q Mini boxes aren't using 2.4GHz for the Wi-Fi hotspots and should only use this connection rarely. If you connect your main Sky Q box via Ethernet, then the 2.4GHz channel is not used, so disabling it is pointless. So, the only reason to disable 2.4GHz networking here is to make sure that your 5GHz network is working; if you lose the image, then the 5GHz network is down and you should reset everything. You may need another Sky Q Booster, so you should contact Sky support directly if your problem is not solved.

You do have Sky broadband

If you have Sky broadband, your Sky Q Mini boxes will act as Wi-Fi hotspots. This is mostly a good thing, but some people have had problems where devices ping between the Mini’s Wi-Fi and your router’s Wi-Fi, which can cause connectivity problems for some devices. In this case, you may want to temporarily disable 2.4GHz networking to see if it fixes your problems. Be aware that this will mean your hotspot is only working on the 5GHz band, so connecting other devices to it may impact bandwidth and cause streaming problems. In other words, be really careful before you decide to disable 2.4GHz.

A secondary reason is to ensure that your 5GHz network is working properly: if you disable 2.4GHz networking and your picture drops out, your 5GHz network is not working and you should reset everything. If there are still problems, you may need another Sky Q Booster, so contact Sky support directly.

How to disable 2.4GHz networking on your Sky Q devices

To disable the 2.4GHz band, you have to enter the hidden engineering menu. In rapid succession press Home, 0, 0, 1, Select (or the touchpad on the touch remote). This brings up a hidden menu. Select 2.4GHz and click select to disable it. Never disable the 5GHz mode, as this will break the mesh network and cause endless problems.

Sky Q Mini 2.4GHz off

Select Confirm at the bottom of the page. If your boxes are set up correctly, they’ll continue to get a picture on-screen; if the signal drops, you have a 5GHz mesh network issue. If you were having hotspot issues, see if they’ve gone away. We recommend leaving both 2.4GHz and 5GHz modes enabled: to reverse disabling the 2.4GHz network, follow the instructions above and when you select the network band it will be turned back on.

How to use Ethernet with Sky Q

If you look around the back of your Sky Q box, or your Sky Q Mini boxes, you’ll see that there are Ethernet ports, all blocked off with a little tab that warns you about using them. However, Ethernet’s a brilliant technology that’s generally faster than wireless, so you may want to use it in some circumstances. For example, connecting my Sky Q Silver box by Ethernet more than doubled download speeds over having the box connected via wireless. If you don’t have Sky broadband, this feature has a secondary advantage: it means all of your Sky Q devices are connected via the 5GHz mesh network only, freeing up your main 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks for other devices only.

I’ll show you how to set Ethernet up on the main box, but I’m not going to cover how to make your entire system Ethernet-based: this is a specialist setup for when there’s a massive issue with getting wireless to work properly and should only be done by a Sky engineer.

1. Connect your main box

Pull out the tab on the Sky Q box and plug an Ethernet cable into this, then run the other end of the cable into your router (Sky Q Hub or otherwise). Go to Settings, Setup, Network, Advanced Settings and select the ‘Connect to your router using a wired connection’ option. If you have a Sky Q Hub, you’ll be asked if you want to use your box as a Wi-Fi hotspot. We recommend that you select Yes, unless you have a really good reason not to. If you don’t have a Sky Q Hub, your box’s wireless connection will be disconnected.

Sky Q Silver Ethernet

2. Reconnect any Boosters

Any Sky Q boosters will now be broken, so you need to reconnect them. First, perform a reset by pressing and holding the reset on the back until the power LED starts to flash. Go to your main Sky Q box and press and hold the WPS button (far right) until its amber light starts to flash. Go to your Booster and press and hold its WPS button (far right) until its amber light starts to flash. The Booster will connect and its Connect light will turn solid green when the connection is stable. Repeat for any other Boosters.

Sky Q Booster reset button

3. Reconnect Q Mini boxes

You also need to reconnect your Sky Q Mini boxes. Go to Settings, Setup, Network and select Reset followed by Confirm. When the box restarts press Select and then go to the closest connected Sky Q device (the main box or Booster) and press and hold its WPS button (far right) until it flashes amber. Go back to your Sky Q Mini and it will connect to the network and then your main Sky Q box. The video should appear back on screen and everything should work properly. Please give the box a few minutes to settle down: the 2.4GHz network is often used to start with, which may cause some issues, but the 5GHz network soon cuts in. Repeat for all Sky Q Mini boxes.

Sky Q Mini reset screen

If you don’t have Sky broadband, you should see on your Mini boxes that if you go to Settings, Setup, Networks, Advanced settings that your box is connected to a wireless network, with a name, such as SKY0B59: this is the special network that the Sky system has created and is completely normal. 

Sky Q Mini network

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