A low-budget provider, but the speeds on offer are falling well behind the pack
- Some of the cheapest deals on the market
- Option to sign up without a long-term contract
- Reliance on outdated fibre technology leaves it lagging behind on speed
- Among the least reliable providers in our survey
Now Broadband was the winner of the Best Value award in the 2023 Expert Reviews Broadband Awards, and it puts in another strong showing in that category this year. However, there’s a growing sense that Now Broadband is failing to keep pace with its rivals.
Now Broadband is very much the low-budget offering from the Sky family. While almost all of its competitors are now offering triple-figure download speeds, Now Broadband remains rooted in slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connections that top out at 63Mbits/sec. Even though its prices remain keen, the lack of speed means they increasingly look poor value. Though it’s based on mobile phone networks, Three’s Value-award winning proposition offers much faster speeds for only £20/mth, for example.
Still, most Now Broadband customers still believe they’re getting decent value for money. Just over three quarters said they were happy with the value on offer – a score that puts Now Broadband firmly in the top half of the value table.
However, with that reliance on now outdated FTTC connections, it’s no surprise to find Now Broadband languishing near the bottom of the speed table. It’s only kept off the bottom by parent company Sky, in fact.
Not everyone needs blistering internet speeds, however. So, let’s take a more detailed look at Now Broadband’s tariffs and performance.
Now Broadband review: Brilliant Broadband
We’ve not listed tariffs based on the older ADSL technology for the other providers here, because it’s such an outdated technology that you would only use it if you had no other choice. We’ve made an exception for Now Broadband because it seems trapped in the technological past.
To be clear, we would only consider Brilliant Broadband if you were one of the unfortunate few who still aren’t connected to any type of fibre broadband network, and you can’t get coverage from Three. The 11Mbits/sec stated average speed is dismal by today’s standards and would be a miserable experience for anything but very basic web surfing and downloading email.
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Now Broadband review: Fab Fibre and Super Fibre
The two FTTC tariffs are identically priced at £23/mth, which means the only reason to be on Fab Fibre is that you have no choice – your line simply isn’t fast enough to support even the modest 63Mbits/sec top speed of Super Fibre. You’ll find out what your line is capable of when you punch in your postcode on Now Broadband’s coverage checker.
Even though the speeds aren’t that impressive, it’s good to see a broadband provider that isn’t trying to nail you down for a minimum term of two years. In fact, you can avoid a contract altogether if you decide to pay £60 up front. It might be worth paying that fee, too, since more than half of the Now Broadband customers we surveyed said their price had increased in the past year. Granted, the lack of contract won’t necessarily spare you from price increases, but at least it’s easier to escape – or strike a better deal with the company’s retention department – when you’re not tied down.
That second-generation Now Hub is an older Wi-Fi 5 router, though given the modest speeds on offer from the connection, this isn’t as much of a downer as it would be for those on much faster full-fibre connections.
|Price per month (inc line rental)
Note: The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%
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Now Broadband review: Coverage
Now Broadband is based on the Openreach network. Well over 95% of the population can now receive fibre-to-the-cabinet connections from Openreach, so you’ll likely have to be in an extreme rural area or somewhat unlucky to be outside of Now Broadband’s reach.
Remember that the company doesn’t yet offer full-fibre connections, so forget about Now Broadband if you’re looking for the gigabit-grade speeds of today’s fastest connections.
Now Broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction
Its reliance on the slower, less reliable fibre-to-the-cabinet connections is no doubt damaging Now Broadband’s performance scores in our survey, in partnership with YouGov.
Just under 70% of customers said they were happy with the speed of their Now Broadband connection, but 16% said they were dissatisfied – only parent company Sky recorded a higher proportion of unhappy customers here.
Reliability suffers, too. Only two thirds of Now Broadband customers reported being satisfied in this regard, leaving the company hovering near the foot of the table once more. Those old copper lines that make up the final stretch of a fibre-to-the-cabinet connection are notoriously unreliable, which is the reason most providers are working hard to phase them out.
Now performs better when it comes to customer service. Despite less than half being satisfied here, it actually places the company in the top half of the table with well above average performance. In addition, the Contact Centre performs relatively well when customers arrive with problems, with two thirds of customers satisfied here.
The relatively low cost of the Now Broadband service is what pleases customers most. A healthy 77% said they were satisfied with the value on offer from Now, putting it firmly in the top half of the table in this category too.
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Now Broadband review: Verdict
You can’t complain about the price of Now Broadband, with the company offering some of the cheapest deals on the market. Customer service is above average, too. But the company’s reliance on the outdated fibre-to-the-cabinet technology is hammering performance and reliability scores, and leaving Now Broadband lagging behind most of its rivals when it comes to the raw speed of its connections. Only consider Now if your broadband demands are light.
Unless otherwise stated, all of the figures are drawn from a survey commissioned by Expert Reviews, with respondents and data supplied by YouGov PLC. The total sample size was 6,316 adults and the survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Great British adults (aged over 18).
We asked people how likely they would be to recommend their broadband provider to others and to rate its customer service, reliability, value, and speed. Only the 11 ISPs with over 50 respondents are included in our results above.