In terms of customer base, Plusnet is the most popular budget broadband brand operating on the BT network. I’ve had a chance to test their services for one year, switching away from a BT hybrid fibre line.
My experience with Plusnet was overall positive; as advertised, they deliver reliable internet service with good customer service at a low price point. I saved £120 by switching for the year after the cost of installation, compared with what I was paying with BT.
Still, I switched back to BT at the end of the trial. Why?
The main drawbacks with Plusnet were, in my experience, performance and security. They’re rated as the 10th fastest broadband provider in the UK. Their security suite and parental controls come from a third party (Norton), and most of their security page is just tips on how to set strong passwords.
The features on their default Wi-Fi router lag behind BT and other leading broadband providers by about a year. Parental controls are there, but they’re clunky and have limited options for defining unique networks with their own passwords.
Plusnet offers broadband packages that are equivalent to BT in terms of advertised speed. While these vary by area, here are some examples in the London area:
|Provider||Budget plan (20 Mbps)||Mid-tier plan (50 Mbps)||High-end plan (80 Mbps)|
|Plusnet||Unlimited Broadband||Unlimited Fibre||Unlimited Fibre Extra|
|BT||Broadband||Fibre 1||Fibre 2|
The key difference between Plusnet and BT historically has been that Plusnet did not offer full fibre service. While they were part of the early pilot of Openreach full fibre infrastructure, holdups in the exchanges held up their launch of consumer services.
Plusnet has been slow to launch its full fibre broadband service compared with other major providers like BT and Vodafone. Plusnet full fibre service is scheduled to launch in late 2022.
Speed test reports and consumer reviews consistently report that Plusnet provides slower speeds than BT. How can this be true when both providers offer the same speeds?
There are two factors that limit Plusnet speed:
Essentially, the equipment provided to power your Wi-Fi network with Plusnet is older and has a less modern featureset than the Smart Hub products offered by BT. This means that even if your connection is the same speed on the same Openreach phone line, BT will deliver faster speed to your laptop because the Wi-Fi is more reliable.
All Plusnet Wi-Fi routers are, in essence, rebranded BT products.
When you sign up for Plusnet service, make sure that they send you the Plusnet Hub Two router.
|Router model||Plans offered||Upgrade available?||Equivalent BT product|
|Plusnet Hub Two||Speeds under 50 Mbps||Yes.||BT Smart Hub 2|
|Plusnet Hub One||Speeds 50–80 Mbps||Yes.||BT HomeHub 5A|
Because it’s a rebranded BT Smart Hub 2, the Plusnet Hub Two router has very similar security and parental control options to BT service.
The key difference between the Plusnet Hub One and Plusnet Hub Two is that the Hub Two allows you to set DNS, supports more devices and has a wider range in the home. It’s worth paying for the upgrade if you’re on a legacy device.
Plusnet’s parental controls system is quite feature-low, but it does enable the basics like blocking sites, creating “green light” site lists, and limiting browsing time for certain devices.
The main thing I liked about Plusnet’s parental controls is that they are enabled during setup, meaning that they’re presented to all users as a default option. This is a step ahead of what most providers do, burying security and parental controls deep in the “advanced” settings.
In addition to being owned by the same parent company (BT Group), Plusnet uses the same Openreach infrastructure to deliver broadband service. This is true both for phone line service (ADSL) and full fibre service (Openreach fibre).