Plusnet Buyers Guide
Can I get Plusnet?
Plusnet is owned by BT and benefits from BT’s network covering most of the UK. However, this does not mean that all areas have identical options available to them.
The broadband regulator, Ofcom, allows providers to make savings when selling broadband to customers connected to telephone exchanges where some broadband providers have installed their own equipment (market classification), which tend to be within large towns and cities. Plusnet passes on those savings to customers in these higher competition areas, meaning these customers can get a cheaper deal. You can find out if this applies to where you live by using our postcode checker.
However, Plusnet’s fibre-optic packages are only available in fibre network areas, as it depends on the same fibre to the cabinet technology as used by BT Infinity, which is currently available to two-thirds of UK households, typically in cities and towns. Again, you can use our postcode checker to find out if you live in one of these areas and are able to get Plusnet Fibre.
What packages are available?
Plusnet offer one core standard broadband package that comes with several phone plan options:
- Plusnet Unlimited - unlimited, allowing you to use the internet as much as you like without limits on how much you're allowed to download or upload
This package comes with up to 17Mb download speed, but your speed could be a fair bit less than this due to various factors such as your distance from the BT telephone exchange, with speeds getting progressively slower the further away you are and the number of people using the network, with speeds at peak times such as evenings being slower than late at night. You can check how far you are from your nearest exchange using our postcode checker.
In addition to these, Plusnet also offer two fibre-optic broadband packages:
- Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Broadband - up to 38Mb download speed, up to 2Mb upload speed, unlimited usage
- Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra Broadband - up to 76Mb download speed, up to 19.5Mb upload speed, unlimited usage
These use newer technology which offers much faster download speeds than the regular ADSL broadband, and distance from phone exchanges does not matter as the connections use fibre-optics as far as the street cabinet, so the slow-down from copper wire is only based on the distance from these. This means that far more people can enjoy the faster speeds, and even homes that are relatively long distances from the street cabinet can generally receive speeds in excess of 15Mb.
Plusnet offer the option to add a phone service to any of these packages. All Plusnet Broadband & Calls packages come with Plusnet's basic line rental only package, where you only pay for the calls you make, but you do get free calls to other Plusnet customers and Plusnet support. For an extra £3/month you can upgrade to Evenings and Weekends, and for £6/month you can upgrade to Plusnet Anytime which offers free inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines. Finally, you can upgrade to Plusnet International Anytime 300 for an extra £7.50/month over the basic package, which comes with free inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines and 300 inclusive anytime minutes to 35 international destinations as well as 25% off top international call destinations outside of your 300 minutes.
You need to pay line rental with all packages with a calling plan, although you can save on line rental fees by paying for a year up front. Standalone broadband packages require a phone line, but you have the choice of staying with your current phone provider, taking out line rental with Plusnet or choosing another supplier that suits your needs.
Which package should I choose?
An important first question to ask yourself is if you need the speed of fibre of if you can get by with standard broadband speeds.The extra speed is indeed much faster and thus a tempting prospect, but there is no point paying for it if you’re not going to use it. Plusnet’s ADSL speeds of up to 17Mb are easily sufficient for most online activities including Skype calls and downloading music. However, this is not the case if you live far enough from a telephone exchange that your ADSL speed would be very low.
It would also be worth getting fibre if you are a heavy downloader, or regular gamer, as these are both activities that would benefit from the extra speed, reducing download times and preventing lag in games. Fibre packages will help also prevent slowdown in households with many heavy internet users, such as student flats or homes with large families, where one connection has to be divided between several people.
If you're a heavy uploader, perhaps because you share your own YouTube videos or use cloud backup and sync services, or if you're in a busy household where several people may be streaming HD video at once, then you may benefit from the upgrade to Unlimited Fibre Extra offering up to double the download speed and almost 10 times the upload speed.
Points to consider before you choose
- How far do you live from a BT telephone exchange, and will this be a problem for your ADSL speeds?
- How many people will be using your broadband connection at any one time, especially for heavy downloading or online games?
- Are you a heavy uploader, or someone who uses cloud backup and sync services?
- Is fibre optic broadband available in your area?
- Is the extra expense of fibre broadband really worth it for you?
What do I get when I sign-up?
It's always good to know upfront what you'll get when signing up with an ISP so you know what you can enjoy for free, or to budget for any extras you may want.
- Wireless router - All new customers signing up to Plusnet will receive a free wireless router worth £40. It comes with four ethernet ports for wired connections and ‘N’-reated wireless technology giving you a better signal, and it’s easy to set up, automatically connecting to the internet for you when you follow the set-up guide. If you wish to use your own router instead, Plusnet will allow that provided you check with them that it is compatible.
- UK-based customer service - Unlike most other providers, Plusnet’s customer service is entirely based in the UK, and is available between 7:30am and 10pm, 365-days a year to help with any queries you may have. All Plusnet phone customers get free calls to Plusnet's customer service.
- Plusnet Protect - Powered by McAfee, Plusnet Protect is Plusnet’s internet security package free to Unlimited and Fibre Extra customers, available for an extra £2 per month for standard Fibre. Up to 7 PCs can be protected through its anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and firewall tools. It also allows you to set parental controls to filter what children using the internet can access.
- Plusnet Assist - Plusnet Assist is a tool provided free to Plusnet customers that allow them to take much of the hassle out of sorting out broadband connection problems. This instant technical support tool will watch for problems and attempt to fix any it encounters, including reconnecting if your connection drops, or troubleshooting your e-mail account.
- Static IP available - Customers on Unlimited Broadband and Unlimited Fibre Extra can add a static IP address for a one off payment of £5.
What are the benefits of Plusnet?
The benefits offered by an ISP may be what seals the deal in your decision to buy a package from them.
- Cost - Plusnet is among the cheapest of the large providers, making it a good choice for those on a tight budget or those who just like to save money. If you want standalone broadband without bundled line rental and calls, Plusnet tends to be the cheapest available.
- One month contracts - Unlike many other providers, Plusnet offer one-month rolling contracts. Once you have paid a free to activate the service, you only need to give 14 days notice to cancel, meaning you are not committed to long contracts lasting a year or more. This is ideal for those with short tenancy agreements, students, or those who may need to move with minimal notice.
- Standalone broadband - Plusnet are one of the few large providers to offer standalone broadband packages, meaning you don’t need to take your line rental or calls from Plusnet in order to use their broadband service. Plusnet's phone bundles are good value and you can keep your existing phone number, but if you'd prefer not to switch phone supplier or have found cheaper options elsewhere, you have the flexibility to do this with Plusnet broadband.
- Unlimited usage on all deals - There's no reason to choose between price and usage allowance when Plusnet's entire range of broadband products come with no limits on the amount you're allowed to download or upload each month.
- Value line rental - If you take a package including line rental, you can cut the cost of this by paying a reduced price for a year of Plusnet line rental up front, producing a significant saving over the monthly rate.
- Award winning - Plusnet have won numerous awards for their customer service and value. The most prestigious of these is that they are current holder of Which? Magazine's recommended broadband supplier award.
What are the drawbacks of Plusnet?
Let's face it, not everything can be perfect, and even the best deals may have a downside.
- Few extras - Unlike many of the larger providers, Plusnet does not offer much in the way of extras like wi-fi hotspot access, online TV or a home move service. However this is reflected in the cheaper cost, and it does not affect the core broadband service.
- Not truly unlimited - traffic management is used to prioritise real-time interactive traffic like VPNs, streaming, browsing, email and gaming over less time-critical traffic like downloads and file sharing, and to flex the network during abnormal load such as major news events or network outages. For the majority of users this will improve performance at peak times, but if you do a lot of downloading or uploading you may prefer to opt for a truly unlimited broadband service instead.
- No contract option is more expensive and not available with Fibre - 1 month contracts cost £2.50 per month extra, have a £25 installation charge and don't qualify for most Plusnet special offers. Only available on Standard (ADSL) products, not Fibre.
- Higher rural prices - Although Plusnet is owned by BT, their packages are still cheaper in some areas than others. The cheapest prices tend not to be available in rural and remote areas - although due to the Ofcom market classification mechanism this is tied to, Plusnet are still likely to be the cheapest or among the cheapest stand alone broadband on any exchange.