Looking for broadband at an affordable price? Want Sky channels without the long contracts, large bills and clunky satellite dish? Then you should take a look at NOW Broadband - but is the provider any good? Here's our review.
Affordable broadband and access to top satellite channels like Sky Atlantic - all without a contract or a dish? That's what NOW Broadband is offering, but can it deliver on that promise?
NOW Broadband's packages aren't the cheapest in the UK, but they are reasonable. Its standard ADSL broadband package is one of the cheaper on the market, while its fibre options sit closer to the middle of the pack - a similar price range to BT.
That said, there are regularly special offers available that change the price of a broadband package dramatically. Below are some current NOW Broadband deals, but make sure you compare packages in your area and see the full list of current prices.
Once you've signed up for broadband, you can also get a TV pass. These let you watch Sky entertainment, Cinema or Sports channels online, via smartphone, tablet, computer, console and more.
They reflect pretty good value - you get similar content to Sky for a much lower price. In general you'll pay less than most pay-TV, though what you get is far more limited - you'll have to pay an additional charge if you want to get a set top box, for example.
One of NOW Broadband's biggest draws is the inclusion of a six-month NOW TV Entertainment Pass with its broadband and fibre packages.
In terms of speed, choose between standard ADSL - slow and outdated by modern standards, but suitable for light users or small households - and two superfast fibre options for those who want a bit more oomph.
Until recently one of the best reasons for signing up to NOW Broadband was its flexibility around the length of broadband contracts. Unfortunately, its popular one-month contracts are no longer available, and the minimum broadband contract is for 12 months. While it’s not the cheapest provider (look to Post Office and Onestream), its basic broadband and fibre packages are very reasonably priced.
Finally, you pick a phone plan - choosing between pay as you go, evening and weekend, and anytime calls. We'll delve into home phone a bit later, but overall, building a package is incredibly straightforward - something we appreciate.
Five kinds of TV 'passes' are available from NOW Broadband:
- Entertainment Pass - live channels and on demand programmes from ABC Studios, Comedy Central, Discovery, Fox, Gold, MTV, Nat Geo Wild, Sky 1, Sky Arts, Sky Atlantic, Sky Witness, Syfy, and Viceland
- Sky Cinema Pass - live Sky Cinema channels and more than 1,000 movies to watch on-demand at any time
- Sky Sports Pass - access to all of Sky Sports, again both live and on demand
- Kids Pass - live and on-demand shows from Boomerang, Cartoonito, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Nick Toons
- Hayu Pass - access to all the reality TV shows you can wave a stick at - including Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Let's be real: these TV Passes are fantastic. They're low in price, and there's no commitment - you can get a pass for just a day if there's a sportsball event you want to catch, or for a month to entertain the kids over the summer.
On top of that, it's decent content. You don't get nearly as much as you would from Sky or Virgin Media, but NOW Broadband has selected some of the best premium TV channels to offer. You can watch Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic, for instance, or nature docs on Discovery and Jamestown on Sky 1.
Now the problems: firstly, you can't bundle NOW Broadband and TV together as easily as in the past. Now you have to add a pass once you've signed up for broadband, not at the same time. You'll get a discount for Entertainment channels, but otherwise you'll pay standard price for the other passes.
You also no longer get a Freeview set top box included. If you want to watch NOW Broadband on your TV, you'll either need to use a streaming stick, console or other such device. If you don't have one of these, you can buy one from NOW Broadband.
As for the quality of the service, a few users do report technical glitches here and there, and HD is only slowly becoming available across the service. And watch out, because episodes tend to disappear from the on-demand vaults a fair bit quicker than they do from full streaming services like Netflix.
It could be faster - Virgin Media's broadband goes to 350Mb and beyond, and BT's entry level fibre advertises average download speeds of 50Mb - but around 63Mb is still more than enough for most homes.
Downloads, fair usage, and traffic management
All NOW Broadband's broadband is truly unlimited. In other words, there are no download limits, no usage caps, no traffic management, and no sneaky fair usage clauses - besides making you promise not to use your connection unlawfully, of course. That's perfect, as it means you really can use the internet without limits (within, you know, the law).
When you get NOW Broadband, you get a landline bundled in as well. When you sign up, you'll get to choose the specific phone plan you want. Your options are:
- Pay as you use: standard call rates and no inclusive calls at all. If you tend to stick with your mobile, this is the one to go for.
- Evening and Weekends: inclusive landline calls between 7pm and 7am Monday to Friday, and all day on Saturday and Sunday
- Anytime Calls: inclusive landline calls 24/7. As the name implies.
This isn't as comprehensive as the phone service you can get from providers like BT - you won't find complex calling features, inclusive international minutes, or anything like that. If you only need a basic phone line, however, it couldn't be more straightforward.
Actually, that's it. With NOW Broadband, you get… erm, broadband. And maybe TV. If you're on the hunt for lots of freebies and extras, you won't get those here - don't expect cheap mobile deals, or access to public Wi-Fi, or free Snapfish photos, for instance.
NOW Broadband has much to recommend it. It has a commendable attitude to cutting out complexity - it's really easy to sign up for, with options clearly laid out in such a way as to make it simple to build the bundle you want.
When it comes to TV though, one thing is abundantly clear - it's not a replacement for TV services like Sky and Virgin Media, but an alternative.
If you want a cheap way to get Sky channels like Sky Atlantic, it represents an affordable way to do it. The downside is that you don't get a comprehensive TV service like you would from Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BT or Sky. There's no set top box included as standard, no Freeview, no recording functionality and far fewer channels. It's a good thing then that the channels included are mostly good ones.
Ultimately then, NOW Broadband is a decent pick. It won't suit if you want the fastest speeds or the best TV, but if you want affordable broadband and a few good channels, you should take a look. Just make sure you compare prices to ensure you're getting the best deal.