Now vs Plusnet broadband: Which is better?

Last updated: 1 November 2021   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Now and Plusnet both offer budget broadband to UK broadband customers with similar prices and deals available.

now or plusnet broadband

At a glance

Now Plusnet
Price From £18 From £18.99
Basic broadband 11Mb average
Unlimited
10Mb average
Unlimited
Superfast fibre broadband 36Mb or 63Mb average
Unlimited
36Mb or 66Mb average
Unlimited
Ultrafast fibre broadband None None
Inclusive calls UK landlines and mobiles None
Anytime UK calls Inclusive £9.41/mth
2,000 mins to UK mobiles
TV Extra cost None
Minimum term 12 months 12 months / 18 months

Special offers

Now and Plusnet frequently run limited time deals on their broadband plans. Here are their latest special offers updated live:

Offer Terms

Plusnet Full Fibre broadband from just £27.99/mth for 145Mbps download speeds

24 month minimum term. No set up cost. £40.04/mth after 24 months. Price rises each year on 31 March by CPI + 3.9%


Plusnet Fibre broadband just £25.99/mth

Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
29 May 2024

24 month minimum term. No set up cost. £30/mth after 24 months. Price rises each year on 31 March by CPI + 3.9%

Offer Terms

NOW Entertainment just £6.99/mth for 6 months with NOW Broadband.

NOW Entertainment membership costs £9.99/mth after 6 months (cancel anytime). NOW Broadband £21/mth until 4 July 2024, then £24/mth for the remainder of the 12 month minimum term. £41.50/mth after 12 months. £10 set up fee. Prices may change during contract.


NOW Sports just £29.99/mth for 12 months with NOW broadband.

NOW Sports membership costs £34.99/mth after 12 months (cancel anytime). NOW Broadband £21/mth until 4 July 2024, then £24/mth for the remainder of the 12 month minimum term. £41.50/mth after 12 months. £10 set up fee. Prices may change during contract.


Broadband deals

Winner: Now broadband deals are cheaper than Plusnet's and include anytime calls.

Now and Plusnet both offer superfast broadband as well as basic copper broadband to homes across the UK.

Here are their superfast broadband deals side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fab Fibre 36Mb average £21 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £24/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Super Fibre 63Mb average £21 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £24/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Unlimited Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months
Unlimited Fibre Extra 66Mb average £26.99 Free 24 months

These two providers are often some of the cheapest around, but in a head-to-head battle, Now come out on top for their broadband deals.

As well as faster speeds for less money, Now also offer free anytime calls with their 12-month broadband plans. Customers who would like this feature on Plusnet would need to pay over £9 extra per month, so that alone makes Now's deal more enticing.

One thing to be aware of is that Now do charge P&P on their router, meaning there's a £5 upfront fee while Plusnet don't charge any sort of set-up fees. That said, the savings over the length of a Now contract are more than £5, so it evens out.

Now contracts only tie customers in for a 12-month minimum term while Plusnet's standard is 18 months.

For customers who still prefer standard copper broadband or can't yet access fibre on the superfast broadband network, here are the options from Now and Plusnet:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Brilliant Broadband 11Mb average £20 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £23/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Unlimited + Line only 10Mb average £25.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers

Now is slightly cheaper again, but there's not much in it. Once more, it's the anytime calls that might be the deciding factor for those who like to use their landline.


Price

Winner: Now is cheaper than Plusnet across all broadband speed levels.

While Plusnet are known for being one of the cheapest broadband providers around, they are usually beaten by Now.

Their pricing structure allows Now to offer some of the UK's cheapest broadband deals whether we're looking at superfast or basic copper broadband, and the small upfront costs are unlikely to put many customers off.

The clincher may be the anytime calls included as standard with Now broadband plans, although customers who don't use them might see their choice more finely balanced.

One further thing to note is that Plusnet often run special offers including a reward card to be spent in various online and offline retailers. This can often equate to several months of a contract, so it's worth considering for some.

Be sure to check the special offers table at the top of this guide to see what deals Now and Plusnet currently have running.


Speed

Winner: Plusnet offers faster broadband than Now, but there's not much in it.

Three speed packages are offered by Now and Plusnet broadband covering copper broadband, entry-level superfast fibre and faster fibre.

The headline download speeds on these are similar:

Now Plusnet
Copper broadband 11Mb 10Mb
Entry-level fibre 36Mb 36Mb
Faster fibre 63Mb 66Mb

As we can see, while Plusnet offer broadband that's slightly faster at the highest level, the two are tied on entry-level fibre and Now inch ahead on copper broadband.

The reality is that the differences between the two providers are so small that customers are unlikely to notice them around the home.

Besides, broadband speeds can vary from home to home and customers may not receive the advertised speeds. The headline figures are those available to at least 50% of homes, but this doesn't always match the real-world experience.

For instance, Ofcom's annual speed testing report looks at the actual performance of ISP packages in the UK. They cover Plusnet but, unfortunately, Now aren't big enough to be tested.

Ofcom average speeds, published March 2023
Advertised average speed Over 24hrs Peak time
(8-10pm weekdays)
Plusnet 66Mb 64.15Mb 63.57Mb

So, the reality for many Plusnet customers is that the speeds don't reach those advertised - but that isn't unusual across broadband companies in the UK offering fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband.

Neither provider has started offering ultrafast broadband of more than 100Mb yet, so customers looking for those deals will need to look elsewhere.

Upload speeds

Upload speeds offered by Now and Plusnet are nothing spectacular but they will do the job for most customers, topping out at around 19Mb.

Package Download speed Upload speed
Now Brilliant Broadband 11Mb 1Mb
Plusnet Unlimited 10Mb 1Mb
Now Fab Fibre 36Mb 10Mb
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre 36Mb 9Mb
Now Super Fibre 63Mb 19Mb
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra 66Mb 18Mb

Again, there isn't much difference here and the same caveats apply on advertised speeds and the fact some households may not reach them.

This brings us to our next point: reliability.

Reliability

Now and Plusnet deliver their superfast broadband over FTTC networks.

As we explain in our guide to broadband reliability, FTTC connections are generally more unreliable than fibre to the premises (FTTP) and copper broadband is even less reliable than FTTC connections.

Once again, Ofcom includes Plusnet in their analysis of UK home broadband but not Now. Even so, it gives us a great insight into how FTTC compares to other types of broadband.

The latency of a broadband connection measures the delay in moving traffic through the network, so a lower figure equals a better performance.

This is how Plusnet's latency measures up to similar FTTC connections (and copper ADSL2+ broadband too):

ofcom broadband latency fttc

Copper broadband has much higher latency, with FTTC connections offering around the same levels across providers. We can expect that to hold for Now as well as Plusnet.

Taking a look at faster fibre, we can compare Plusnet's FTTC to a FTTP broadband package from BT:

ofcom broadband latency fttp

This demonstrates that, while Plusnet's latency is still broadly in line with other superfast providers, when we look at FTTP connections, the difference is very clear.

Since neither Plusnet nor Now use FTTP technology yet, there will be a certain amount of latency on those FTTC lines - but it's still a huge improvement on copper broadband.


Routers

Winner: Plusnet's router has more Ethernet ports than Now's router, but the technology is similar.

Since both providers are subsidiaries of bigger names, they offer copies of old routers offered by their premium parent companies.

Now provides the Now Hub Two to customers. This is a rebranded version of the Sky Q Hub. Plusnet provide the Hub One (a rebranded version of an old BT router) to superfast customers and the Hub Zero to copper broadband customers.

The Now Hub Two and Plusnet Hub One are both dual band routers, but Plusnet's hub has four Ethernet ports while Now's only has two. They both have five antennae to help improve broadband coverage around the home.

Overall, the routers provided by these two budget ISPs are similar and capable of handling the superfast broadband packages they're used with.

Plusnet have recently started supplying their business customers with the Hub Two (another rebrand of a BT router), so this may mark a step up when they finally start distributing it to residential broadband customers.


Call plans

Winner: Now includes anytime calls for free with all their packages. Plusnet doesn't include any free calls.

Now broadband's major selling point is the inclusion of anytime calls as standard. Plusnet customers, on the other hand, will need to choose a call plan if they want to add calls to their deal.

These are the Plusnet call plans on offer:

Package Includes Monthly price
Plusnet Evening & weekend UK & mobile calls Calls to UK landlines
0845 and 0870 numbers
1,000 minutes to UK mobiles
£5.23
Plusnet Unlimited UK & mobile calls Calls to UK landlines
0845 and 0870 numbers
2,000 minutes to UK mobiles
£9.41
Plusnet Anytime international calls Calls to UK landlines
0845 and 0870 numbers
300 minutes to landlines in 35 international destinations & mobiles in US and Canada
£9.41
Plusnet Mobile bolt on (with pay as you call or anytime international only) 100 anytime minutes to UK mobiles £3.00

If a household doesn't use the landline much, the price of Plusnet's call plans on top of a broadband deal may not be a big issue.

However, Now wins this category easily and anyone who likes using their home phone will probably prefer Now based on price.


Customer service

Winner: There's more evidence about Plusnet's positive customer service record.

Now isn't a big enough provider to be covered in Ofcom's customer satisfaction research, but Plusnet's included - and their results can be mixed.

In our most recent analysis of broadband customer service, we put Plusnet in third place for a few reasons:

  • Slightly higher than average satisfaction with overall service
  • Fewer customers with a reason to complain than the industry average

They have also improved their complaint figures significantly over the last couple of years, going from one of the providers with the highest number of complaints to one that's just above the industry average.

On the other hand, the information we have about Now comes mainly from Trustpilot. If we put their ratings on there next to Plusnet's, there are some similarities:

Now Plusnet
TrustScore 1.5 (Bad) 1.5 (Bad)
Excellent ratings 23% 7%
Bad ratings 39% 84%
Number of reviews 10,200+ 7,900+

Bear in mind that, while Plusnet's focus is mainly on broadband, Now's Trustpilot page includes reviews on their TV service too, so it may not be a good indication of how their broadband customers feel about the service.

Nevertheless, both providers have similar overall scores from thousands of reviews, although Plusnet have more outright low ratings and Now customers are more likely to say they are Great or Average instead of going to the extremes of Excellent or Bad.


Other considerations

Now and Plusnet are budget broadband providers so we don't get many extra options to entice customers over.

However, there are two worth mentioning: Now TV memberships and Plusnet Mobile.

TV

Now broadband can be combined with Now TV memberships for discounts when there are special offers on, although this isn't guaranteed to save much money.

Besides, Now TV can be taken by customers of any broadband network (including Plusnet), so it won't be a deciding factor. Even so, it's worth knowing there may be discounts available, especially since Plusnet no longer offer any type of TV service.

Mobile

Plusnet Mobile offer SIM only mobile deals to customers on rolling monthly deals. The main catch here is that they are only available to Plusnet broadband customers.

Plusnet use the EE mobile network to deliver their services and their SIM only plans are good value, so it's worth considering if you're in the market for a cheap deal on your mobile alongside a broadband plan.


Verdict: Now or Plusnet?

Overall winner: Now offer cheaper broadband deals than Plusnet, and also include free anytime calls as standard.

Now and Plusnet offer similar speeds and routers. Even their customer service records are similar, although we have more information about Plusnet's.

What sets Now apart are their cheaper broadband deals, with their broadband packages lower than Plusnet's at every level. That doesn't mean Plusnet are an expensive option, but they're not as cheap as Now.

The offer of inclusive calls with Now is another big point in their favour, especially when the equivalent with Plusnet costs more than £9 per month on top of a broadband bill.

Yet some customers will like the idea of grabbing a Plusnet reward card in one of their regular giveaways to new customers or perhaps they prefer Plusnet due to the solid information we have on their customer service history.

It might come down to the specific offers broadband providers have on at any given time, so be sure to check those before making a final decision.

Comments

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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