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Plusnet Broadband review: Still a top performer for customer support

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 26
(Starting from) Note: The monthly price shown will increase on 31 March 2024 by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%

Remains one of the best for customer service, but its performance is only mid-table

Pros

  • Highly commended for customer service
  • Its Contact Centre handles customer problems well

Cons

  • Middling performance for speed and reliability
  • Hard to distinguish from parent company BT

Plusnet has won the Expert Reviews Broadband Awards for the past two years. This year, it’s simply the “best of the rest”, having been surpassed by Zen Internet and Hyperoptic.

That doesn’t mean Plusnet has suddenly turned into a terrible broadband provider. It remains well regarded for the way it looks after its customers, picking up Highly Commended awards in our Customer Service and Contact Centre categories.

Even though Plusnet has been owned by BT for many years now, its ability to outperform its parent company when it comes to customer service is the reason you’ll find it often outscores BT Broadband in surveys such as ours. Two thirds of Plusnet customers said they were satisfied with customer service, compared to just over half of BT’s customer base.

However, even if customer service is a cut above BT’s, the rest of the offering is pretty similar. Both companies rely on the Openreach network to provide their fibre broadband connections, and even the router equipment supplied to Plusnet customers is rebranded versions of BT equipment. Plusnet tariffs tend to be cheaper than those of BT Broadband, which rather makes you wonder why anyone sticks with BT?

Let’s explore the tariffs on offer from Plusnet and whether it’s worth considering a switch to a provider with award-winning pedigree.

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Plusnet Broadband review: Fibre

Plusnet appears to have simplified its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FFTC) offering into a single tariff. Whether your line can support only 20Mbits/sec or the full 72Mbits/sec download speed, you’re covered under a single tariff that costs a reasonable – if hardly bargain basement – £26/mth.

Plusnet will offer an individual estimate of your likely download speed once you pop your postcode into the checker on its website, so pay careful attention here, since this varies considerably. Even in the same short street, we’ve seen estimated speeds vary by up to 50Mbits/sec.

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Plusnet Broadband review: Full Fibre 74, 145, 300, 500 and 900

If you’re in a region covered by Openreach’s full-fibre network (see coverage below), then you can take your pick from five different Plusnet tariffs.

There’s a decent spread of speeds on offer here, ranging from a modest 74Mbits/sec that will suffice for someone living on their own who isn’t bothered by Ultra HD streaming or huge games downloads, right through to 900Mbits/sec lines that provide enough bandwidth for any size of household or activity.

Note that – unlike Hyperoptic – these full-fibre connections aren’t symmetrical, meaning your upload speeds will be much slower than the downlink. The Full Fibre 74 line has an upload speed of only 20Mbits/sec; the fastest Full Fibre 900 delivers 115Mbits/sec.

All Plusnet customers are sent a Hub Two router, which is a rebadged version of BT Broadband’s Smart Hub 2. This is a Wi-Fi 5 model, which is somewhat disappointing for customers on the fastest full-fibre connections, since it means you’re less likely to get fast Wi-Fi than you would be with a Wi-Fi 6 or even a cutting-edge Wi-Fi 7 router. It’s really the time that providers started providing Wi-Fi 6 kit as a bare minimum.

FibreFull Fibre 74Full Fibre 145Full Fibre 300Full Fibre 500Full Fibre 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£26£27£30£33£40£45
Upfront costNoneNoneNoneNoneNoneNone
Stated speed72Mbits/sec74Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec300Mbits/sec500Mbits/sec900Mbits/sec
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months

Note: The monthly price shown will increase on 31 March 2024 by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%

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Plusnet Broadband review: Coverage

Plusnet relies on the Openreach network to provide its broadband connections. Openreach now passes around 12.5m homes with full-fibre broadband, mainly in the cities and larger towns. The bulk of the population will still be on fibre-to-the-cabinet, which falls under Plusnet’s “Fibre” tariff.

It’s worth noting that some other providers, such as this year’s top performer Zen Internet, have deals with other full-fibre providers in addition to Openreach, which expands their full-fibre footprint.

READ NEXT: Hyperoptic review

Plusnet Broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction

Plusnet’s biggest plus point is undoubtedly customer service. In our survey, carried out with YouGov, only Zen Internet achieved a greater percentage of customers who were satisfied with the service, and fewer than 1/10 of Plusnet’s customers said they were unhappy. By comparison, more than a quarter of Virgin Media’s customers weren’t enthralled about the customer service.

The Contact Centre performs well for Plusnet, too, seemingly dealing with problems well. Only Hyperoptic bettered Plusnet’s performance in this category, with 8/10 customers left satisfied after contacting support.

So, while Plusnet might not have a third Expert Reviews Broadband Awards winner’s trophy in its cabinet, it does bag two Highly Commended awards for Customer Service and Contact Centre.

The rest of its performance is best described as middling. 7/10 customers are satisfied with their speed, but there’s an awkward rump of 13% who aren’t. Reliability is just about the average of the 12 providers on test here, with 73% of Plusnet’s customers declaring themselves satisfied.

Around two thirds of Plusnet customers say they’re satisfied with the value they’re receiving, which is a fair way short of Three and Hyperoptic, but much higher than parent company BT, Sky and Virgin Media.

7/10 Plusnet customers said they would recommend the provider, and maybe it’s price rises, as much as the performance, that’s dampening customers’ enthusiasm for the provider. More than half of the Plusnet customers we surveyed said their price had increased within the past year, a far higher proportion than said the same for award winners Zen Internet and Hyperoptic.

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Plusnet Broadband review: Verdict

Plusnet has consistently proven that it knows how to look after its customers, and this year’s survey provides further evidence of that with the company achieving high scores for both customer service and the Contact Centre. But as more full-fibre providers are entering the market, Plusnet is losing ground in terms of speed and reliability.

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