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PlusNet Broadband

Plusnet Broadband (2021) review: Reliable, fuss-free internet

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
19
Per month (10Mbits/seec

It might be second place in this year’s awards but Plusnet is still a low-cost broadband winner

Pros 
Low prices
Good ADSL and decent fibre performance
Impressive customer satisfaction scores
Cons 
Other services are faster
Rising numbers of Ofcom customer complaints
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After last year’s Expert Reviews Best Broadband Awards triumph, Plusnet has had to settle for second place in most of this year’s award categories. Still, that’s hardly a bad place to be for BT’s value-oriented broadband offshoot, which has still done incredibly well everywhere it matters, including reliability, customer service, speed and value for money. Where its parent company sometimes stumbles, Plusnet still appears to be putting customers first and delivering what they want.

Plusnet’s list of services remains short and simple, with just one basic ADSL service and two fibre options. It’s diversified into mobile networks but moved away from providing triple-play services incorporating broadband, phone and TV. Sadly, it no longer offers the option of a one-month rolling contract but you can still choose between 12-month contracts and slightly cheaper plans running over 18 months. And Plusnet still likes to dish out the deals, like a £70 reward card, to tempt you to sign up.

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Plusnet review: Unlimited Broadband

Plusnet’s low-cost ADSL2 option gives you average 10Mbits/sec download speeds with no usage limits for £19 per month on a 12 month contract, though this goes up to £20 per month if you want the security of an 18 month plan. What’s more, go for the 12-month option and you can avoid the usual £5 activation fee. A router is included, although the current Hub Zero – a rebadged Sagemcom - isn’t the most advanced. It’s limited to 802.11n speeds and only supports a single 2.4GHz band. Still, this is one of the cheapest broadband options available right now.

Plusnet review: Unlimited Fibre

Move up a tier to Plusnet’s basic fibre broadband package and you’re looking at average speeds of 36Mbits/sec for £23 on a 12 month contract or £24 if you want to sign up for 18 months. Again, on the 12 month contract the £10 activation fee is waived. What’s more, the Hub Zero router is replaced with Plusnet’s Hub One model. Still a rebadged Sagemcom router, its features are identical to the old BT Home Hub 5, meaning dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, four Gigabit Ethernet sockets and a USB port to share USB printers or storage over the home network. Not bad at all.

Plusnet review: Unlimited Fibre Extra

Plusnet’s current high-end option takes speeds up to an average 66Mbits/sec for £25 a month on a 12-month contract or just £28 on an 18-month plan. And as before, the £10 activation fee is dropped if you sign up for the shorter term. This is one of the cheapest high-speed fibre plans around and, if your connection can cope with speeds over 40Mbits/sec, it’s well worth the extra £2 a month.

12-month plans

 Unlimited BroadbandUnlimited FibreUnlimited Fibre Extra
Price per month (inc line rental)£19£23£25
Upfront costFreeFreeFree
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months

18-month plans

Unlimited BroadbandUnlimited FibreUnlimited Fibre Extra
Price per month (inc line rental)£20£24£28
Upfront cost£5£10£10
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months

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Plusnet review: Coverage

As an independent but wholly-owned BT subsidiary, it’s no surprise Plusnet runs on the Openreach network, although this is now a separate company run by a different management team. This means Plusnet has exactly the same coverage as every other provider in the Openreach boat, with fibre services in reach of 97% of the UK population and over 3 million homes able to connect to a full-fibre FTTP network. Openreach hopes to connect up to 20 million homes via FTTP within the next few years.

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Plusnet review: Performance and customer satisfaction

Performance on Plusnet’s ADSL2 services is distinctly above average. According to the latest Ofcom test results, it's faster than the quoted 10Mbits/sec and BT, TalkTalk and Vodafone as well; it’s a little off the pace of EE and Sky, however. When it comes to its fibre services, performance is fine rather than anything special; BT and Sky are slightly faster, while Vodafone and TalkTalk are a Mbit/sec or two behind.

But if Plusnet doesn’t excel on raw speeds, it does a whole lot better on customer satisfaction. This year’s Expert Reviews Broadband Awards survey saw it come in second behind Zen Internet in most categories, with more Very Satisfied customers than the rest of the field in nearly every case.

Sky has marginally more customers who were Very Satisfied with its customer support but also more dissatisfied and very dissatisfied, while over half of Plusnet’s users were Very Satisfied with their broadband’s reliability, something only Zen and BT could also claim.

Plusnet also wipes the floor with everyone else bar Zen on Value for money, while 82% would recommend the service to someone else, although here EE scored a few percent higher. Somehow, Plusnet manages to combine low costs with high levels of service and customer satisfaction, and the only fly in the ointment is a high number of customer complaints in Ofcom’s latest survey, at 100 per 100,000 customers. Despite this, Ofcom’s survey still gave it the highest overall customer satisfaction score of any major ISP, at 93%.

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Plusnet review: Verdict

Plusnet has managed something quite impressive, combining low costs with high levels of service and decent speeds to keep the vast majority of its customers satisfied. It’s clear Plusnet’s users feel that they’re not only getting a good broadband service but also a good deal. There’s still room for improvement on performance and the rise in complaints gives us some reason to worry but last year’s overall awards win clearly wasn’t just a blip. If you’re looking for good, solid, reliable broadband without premium prices, Plusnet is still the provider for you.

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