NOW Broadband vs Plusnet Broadband

Last updated: 21 June 2024   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

NOW Broadband and Plusnet are both budget brands for bigger companies, but NOW is outright cheaper.

Plusnet is owned by BT, and is the provider's budget broadband brand, offering cheaper prices for a straightforward and no-frills service.

NOW Broadband is owned by Sky, and is again, the provider's budget broadband and TV brand, also offering cheaper prices, although with more optional extras than Plusnet.

Overall, NOW Broadband is generally cheaper than Plusnet, and also comes with more added benefits, including a digital home phone line and optional TV plan with Sky.

now or plusnet broadband

In this guide:


At a glance

NOW Broadband Plusnet
Monthly price From £23 From £24.99
Setup cost £5 (Refundable) Free
Minimum term 24 months 24 months
Annual price rise Prices may rise CPI + 3.9%
Connection Part-fibre, full fibre Part-fibre, full fibre
Download speeds 61Mb, 75Mb, 100Mb 66Mb, 74Mb, 145Mb, 300Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb
Upload speeds 15Mb, 17Mb, 19Mb 17Mb, 20Mb, 30Mb, 50Mb, 75Mb, 115Mb
Router Sky Broadband Hub Plusnet Hub Two
WiFi guarantee Sky WiFi Max N/a
Parental controls NOW Broadband Buddy Plusnet SafeGuard
Home phone Included Not available
Anytime calls £16/mth (inc. UK mobiles) N/a
TV Optional: Sky TV Not available

Best deals

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 75 75Mb average £23 £5 24 months
offer Offer: £5 refundable advance fee for new customers if applicable
Full Fibre 74 74Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £6/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers

Price

Winner: NOW Broadband is cheaper than Plusnet across equivalent broadband speed packages.

NOW Broadband pricing starts at just £23 per month for either a superfast part-fibre connection, or their 75Mbps full fibre option.

In comparison, Plusnet pricing is £24.99 for the same part-fibre deal, or £27.99 for a full fibre plan with equivalent 74Mbps speeds.

Both providers now offer 24-month terms, so savings are a straightforward £47.76 to £119.76 over the length of the contract by choosing NOW Broadband over Plusnet.

Here are those packages side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Superfast 61Mb average £23 £5 24 months
offer Offer: £5 refundable advance fee for new customers if applicable
Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £5/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 75 75Mb average £23 £5 24 months
offer Offer: £5 refundable advance fee for new customers if applicable
Full Fibre 74 74Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £6/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers

Plusnet offer free setup, whereas NOW charge a £5 fee, but this is refunded on a customer's first bill.

Plusnet broadband comes with the Plusnet Hub Two, and NOW Broadband deals now come with Sky's Broadband Hub, but this can be upgraded to the WiFi 6 enabled Sky Max Hub for an extra £6.50 per month. Standard included routers are comparable though.

Both NOW Broadband and Plusnet raise prices on an annual basis, although exactly how they do that currently differs slightly. Plusnet use an inflation-linked price rise of Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 3.9% and raise prices in April. NOW Broadband say "prices may rise", but when they do, as they have this year, customers do get the option to cancel their contract without penalty, which isn't an option with Plusnet.

Finally, it's worth noting that NOW Broadband include a digital home phone line with pay as you go calls with all their broadband deals, whereas Plusnet is now a broadband-only provider with no option to add a home phone line at all.

Overall, NOW Broadband offer cheaper prices for more, and their recent streamlining with parent-company Sky means customers also get access to useful add-ons, like a router upgrade.


Broadband packages

Winner: NOW Broadband include a home phone line as standard, and customers also get options like an upgraded router, WiFi guarantee, and TV plan, which aren't available with Plusnet.

NOW Broadband has better package options than Plusnet for households looking for a part-fibre or entry-level full fibre deal.

Where Plusnet do beat NOW Broadband however is the options on broadband speed, with Plusnet offering choices of 500Mbps and 900Mbps as well as the entry level 74Mb and 145Mb plans. In contrast, NOW Broadband only goes up to 100Mbps, and those who want faster speeds would have to look at packages from parent-company Sky instead.

Here are NOW Broadband and Plusnet broadband plans side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Superfast 61Mb average £23 £5 24 months
offer Offer: £5 refundable advance fee for new customers if applicable
Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £5/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 75 75Mb average £23 £5 24 months
offer Offer: £5 refundable advance fee for new customers if applicable
Full Fibre 74 74Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £6/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Full Fibre 100 100Mb average £25 £5 24 months
offer Offer: £5 refundable advance fee for new customers if applicable
Full Fibre 145 145Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £12/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Full Fibre 300 300Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £15/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 500 500Mb average £32.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £20/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £39.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £22/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)

As mentioned, these deals are similar but NOW Broadband plans come with a digital home phone line and the option to add inclusive call plans if customers want that.

NOW Broadband customers can also add a faster router for an extra £6.50 per month, and it's possible to bundle Sky Stream TV during the checkout process too.

Overall, NOW Broadband are the better choice for entry-level deals, but Plusnet beats NOW if households want ultrafast and gigabit-capable broadband deals.

Read more in our full reviews of Plusnet broadband and NOW Broadband.


Broadband speed

Winner: Plusnet offer faster ultrafast and gigabit-capable packages, with speeds up to 900Mbps, while NOW Broadband tops out at 100Mbps.

For speed, Plusnet beat NOW Broadband hands-down with their gigabit-capable Full Fibre 900 plan, and even their ultrafast Full Fibre 500 option.

NOW Broadband and Plusnet both deliver Internet using the Openreach part-fibre and full fibre to the home networks. That means the packages will be fairly similar, although NOW Broadband's parent company Sky does have their own equipment installed in exchanges, which means they may manage the network and traffic differently.

While NOW Broadband is limited to speeds up to 100Mbps on average, customers who want to experience a faster service can upgrade their router to a WiFi 6 enabled device as well as access up to 3 WiFi boosters to extend coverage around their home. Despite offering faster speed packages, these are features that aren't available with Plusnet.

NOW Broadband offer the following speed choices:

Average download speed Average upload speed
Superfast 61Mb 15Mb
Full Fibre 75 75Mb 17Mb
Full Fibre 100 100Mb 19Mb

While Plusnet offer more choice with two faster plans:

Average download speed Average upload speed
Fibre 66Mb 17Mb
Full Fibre 74 74Mb 20Mb
Full Fibre 145 145Mb 30Mb
Full Fibre 300 300Mb 50Mb
Full Fibre 500 500Mb 75Mb
Full Fibre 900 900Mb 115Mb

The speeds listed above are based on what a provider's customer base actually receives between the peak hours of 8pm to 10pm in the evening when the network is busiest.

So, these advertised average speeds suggest Plusnet broadband is faster in real-world terms than NOW Broadband, even on similar packages. Plusnet Fibre, their part-fibre deal has faster average download and upload speeds than the equivalent NOW Broadband Superfast.

For entry-level full fibre, NOW Broadband's fastest Full Fibre 100 is a slower tier than the closest Plusnet equivalent of Full Fibre 145, however, remember NOW Broadband pricing is also cheaper to reflect this.

Minimum guaranteed speeds

Minimum guaranteed speeds are the absolute slowest speeds a provider promises a customer will receive before they can cancel their contract and leave penalty free to find a better service elsewhere.

This service guarantee is overseen by Ofcom, who established this rule in their broadband speeds code of conduct, which both Plusnet and NOW Broadband have agreed to follow.

Estimated and minimum guaranteed speeds can vary between locations, however, we tested two locations (one part-fibre and one full fibre area) to see the differences between the providers:

Estimated download speed range Minimum guaranteed download speed
NOW Superfast 66 - 74Mb 60Mb
Plusnet Fibre 71 - 72Mb 71Mb
NOW Full Fibre 75 75 - 76Mb 50Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 74 74Mb 40Mb
NOW Full Fibre 100 100 - 108Mb 90Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 145 145Mb 80Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 500 500Mb 275Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 900 900Mb 500Mb

We can see that for full fibre deals, NOW Broadband actually has faster minimum guaranteed download speeds, although Plusnet Full Fibre 145 has a faster average, so it's still likely to be the faster broadband plan for most households.

Overall, as we can see, while NOW Broadband offers some extras that could boost broadband speed, Plusnet ultimately has the fastest deals and at competitive pricing in the market too.


Router

Winner: Plusnet and NOW Broadband standard routers tie, but NOW Broadband customers can access a WiFi 6 enabled router and WiFi boosters for an extra cost.

Both NOW Broadband and Plusnet use their parent company's router, so, the Plusnet Hub Two which comes with all Plusnet packages is a rebranded version of the BT Smart Hub 2, while NOW Broadband now comes with the standard Sky Broadband Hub, also offered to Sky customers.

Both the Sky Broadband Hub and Plusnet Hub Two support up to WiFi 5 on dual-band channels with WPA2 security.

However, the Sky Broadband Hub has 8 internal antennae, compared to 7 with the Plusnet Hub Two, as well as 4 x 1Gb Ethernet LAN ports compared to 3 with Plusnet's router.

The Sky Broadband Hub also supports mesh, which works with the WiFi Pods provided in Sky's WiFi Max guarantee that NOW Broadband users can access for an extra £6.50 per month.

Plusnet doesn't offer a WiFi guarantee, and so the firmware of the Plusnet Hub Two doesn't support mesh, despite using the same hardware as BT's Smart Hub 2 which does. Plusnet customers can use third-party WiFi boosters but they'll need to connect a hub to the Plusnet router via one of the Ethernet LAN ports.

Here are the routers side-by-side:

Sky Broadband Hub Plusnet Hub Two
WiFi protocol 5 (802.11ac) 5 (802.11ac)
WiFi band Dual-band Dual-band
Mesh Yes No
Ethernet LAN 4 x 1Gb 3 x 1Gb
Antennae 8 7

Lastly, it's also worth re-iterating NOW Broadband users will get Sky's latest Max Hub which supports WiFi 6 and WPA3 security protocols when they add the WiFi Max add-on.

Overall, while the standard routers tie, NOW Broadband customers can access a faster router and supported WiFi booster devices, so they're ultimately a better choice than Plusnet where the router is concerned.


Broadband extras

Winner: NOW Broadband comes with a digital home phone line as standard, with the option to bundle call plans and Sky TV, while Plusnet doesn't have any extras to add.

Plusnet is a great straightforward broadband provider for those who simply want a broadband connection without the often-expensive addition of various extras.

However, for those who may value a home phone line, or who want to enjoy home entertainment with discounts on Sky TV, NOW Broadband is the better choice.

Home phone

Plusnet no longer offer a home phone line with any of their broadband deals, and unlike with parent company BT, users can't choose to add one either.

NOW Broadband on the other hand include a home phone line as standard with all of their broadband deals, so this is one area that really sets NOW Broadband apart from Plusnet.

Customers can choose from Sky Talk Evening & Weekends for £8 extra per month, or add Sky Talk Anytime for £16 extra per month. It is more expensive than previous call plans offered with NOW Broadband, but will a useful addition for some households.

WiFI guarantee

As we've mentioned, NOW Broadband offer customers the chance to access a whole home WiFi guarantee by adding the Sky WiFi Max add-on for an extra £6.50 per month. This add-on also bundles Sky's latest Max Hub router.

WiFi Max promises minimum download speeds of 25Mbps with NOW Full Fibre 75 and Full Fibre 100, while those who take NOW Superfast are promised minimum speeds in every room of at least 10Mbps.

Customers can claim up to 3 WiFi Pods to place around their home to boost signal, but if they still don't achieve the minimum speed they can claim one month's broadband subscription back. Although note, that Sky WiFi Max comes with a 24-month minimum term for the add-on, so it can't be cancelled.

In comparison, Plusnet don't offer a WiFi guarantee service at all, and to access something similar customers would need to purchase third-party devices which wouldn't be supported by Plusnet technical support.

Sky TV

While Plusnet used to offer a branded TV service, including with discounts on BT Sports, this service has now been removed to new customers and even closed to existing ones.

Plusnet as a brand is very much being pared down, while features like TV are made available by opting for other BT-owned brands like BT or EE, which are also more expensive.

New NOW Broadband customers can now bundle Sky's new Streaming TV service, which can be added to any broadband deal during the online checkout process.

Those who bundle can access Sky Stream from £22 per month for the first 18 months, and additional channel packs like Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and Sky Kids can be added after ordering.

Ultimately, this again sets NOW Broadband apart from Plusnet, as customers are able to access cheaper broadband deals whilst still being able to add on extra services like TV, home phone, or WiFi boosters.


Customer service

Winner: Plusnet have highly satisfied customers according to Ofcom, as well as fewer complaints in 2023 than NOW Broadband does.

There isn't as much research available from Ofcom on how NOW Broadband performs for customer service compared to Plusnet. However, Plusnet had the highest scores for satisfaction amongst all the major providers in their latest report.

Plusnet also had fewer complaints per 100,000 customers throughout 2023 than NOW Broadband did, although NOW Broadband had less customers with a reason to complain (regardless of whether they logged the complaint).

NOW Broadband Plusnet
Overall satisfaction - 89%
Satisfaction with speed of service - 83%
Complaints per 100,000 customers in 2023 58 43
Satisfaction with complaints handling - 53%
Customers with a reason to complain 10% 20%
Complaints resolved on first contact - 37%

Plusnet are known to use UK-only call centres, which can help to improve customer service ratings. While NOW Broadband have had UK-based call centres, rumours emerged in the last year that parent company Sky would be outsourcing some of their customer service jobs to India and Bulgaria to help reduce costs.

So far, Sky have kept their market-leading position as one of the best providers for customer service, which no doubt trickles down to NOW Broadband in some way.

However, overall, we'd pick Plusnet for customer service over NOW Broadband. There is more data available for customers to see how they're performing, and they also have fewer complaints than NOW Broadband too.


Verdict: NOW Broadband vs Plusnet broadband: Who wins?

Overall winner: NOW Broadband tick more boxes than Plusnet, and also offer cheaper prices, although only Plusnet offers gigabit broadband speeds.

NOW Broadband and Plusnet are similar providers, both offer lower market prices and straightforward simple broadband deals.

They do differ in two notable areas however, NOW Broadband offers certain extras a customer may want or need, including a home phone line and optional Sky TV plan. Plusnet on the other hand offers faster broadband speeds, with 500Mbps and 900Mbps options.

Both providers use the same Openreach network, so availability will be matched, but NOW Broadband is ultimately cheaper, starting at just £23 for part-fibre or an entry level full fibre deal, while Plusnet costs £24.99 and £27.99 for those same equivalent plans.

Options to benefit from Sky's WiFi Max and new Max Hub, plus bundles with Sky Stream TV, may well win over some customers, especially those who also want to maintain a home phone number.

Overall, we'd pick NOW Broadband over Plusnet for the better budget broadband deal, which should suit all but the largest homes who may find they'd benefit from a faster connection.

Comments

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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