Plusnet may not be the first name you think of when it comes to choosing broadband, but the Yorkshire-bred provider is constantly nipping at the heels of its more recognisable rivals – BT, Virgin and Sky.
If you're looking for a straightforward broadband service with no fuss and extras, Plusnet could be the ideal choice. With the same speeds on offer as the likes of Sky and TalkTalk, Plusnet holds its own comfortably among the big guns. Here's how it stacks up in the broadband market overall.
Plusnet offers a choice of three speeds. You can get download speeds averaging 10Mbps with Unlimited Broadband. This may sound low but it is actually pretty sufficient for most everyday web tasks such as sending emails, browsing the internet or doing online banking.
Consumer watchdog Which? estimates that it would take up to 25 seconds to download one album with 10 songs on this speed, or 1 minute 40 seconds to download 200 photos.
A TV show would take 3 minutes and 23 seconds while a film would download within around 7 minutes, Which? said.
It is where you have multiple users or larger files that the faster speeds offered by a fibre connection become more beneficial. Plusnet Unlimited Fibre customers get average speeds of 36Mbps, while those on Unlimited Fibre Extra receive an average of 66Mbps.
A 36Mbps speed would get that album done in 11 seconds and your photos downloaded in 42 seconds, while a TV show would take just 1 minute 24 seconds to download and a film would be with you within 3 minutes. To go even faster, a 66Mbps connection would have that album ready in 5 seconds, the pictures down in 21 seconds, the TV show ready in 43 seconds and the film ready to play in a minute and a half.
It is worth remembering that the speeds listed represent the average available to 50% of customers, so you may receive a faster or slower speed once connected. Having said that, the average speeds on offer from Plusnet are pretty much the same as those offered by most other providers. An entry-level fibre speed averaging 35Mbps is an ideal option for most modern households.
Only Virgin Media can offer much faster speeds as it operates its own network. If you're struggling to decide which package to go for, read our guide on choosing broadband speed.
Download speed is important as it will tell you how quickly you can receive items such as photos or video and also how smooth the streaming process will be. But it can also be pretty frustrating hanging around for photos to attach to emails or for messages to send. That is why upload speeds are equally important as they give an idea of how quickly your emails will send, and how fast your browser responds to requests.
Plusnet has one of the fastest upload speeds on its 66Mbps Unlimited Fibre Extra broadband deal, at 19Mbps, while you can get 9.5Mbps upload speeds on 36Mbps Unlimited Fibre package. The 10Mbps standard broadband deal offers just a 1Mbps upload speed.
For the sake of comparison, BT offers 1Mbps on its 10Mbps broadband, 9.5Mbps on its 50Mbps option and 19Mbps on its 67Mbps package. Interestingly, Virgin Media may offer faster download speeds than everyone, but its upload speeds fall way behind most providers.
Virgin’s upload speed on its 50Mbps Fibre Broadband is just 3Mbps. To get a 20Mbps upload speed you would have to sign up to Virgin's most expensive 350Mbps download package.
You will need to pay an activation fee to get your broadband set up, but Plusnet says you should be up and running between five to 10 working days if this is the first time you are setting up broadband – or there is a minimum period of 10 days when switching from another provider.
In some cases, an engineer may need to install a new phone line at your property if you don't already have one, or if you're switching over from a cable service. Otherwise you will be sent a plug-and-play router close to your agreed activation date.
Plusnet also warns that you will probably see your speed vary over the first 10 days as the broadband system runs tests to find the best speed for your service. This can cause your speeds to go up and down and sometimes disconnect. To find out more about what to expect, read our guide on broadband installation.
All Plusnet broadband customers get sent an easy set-up router. If you are an Unlimited Broadband customer you will get a basic Hub Zero. Fibre customers will receive the Plusnet Hub One, which has four Ethernet ports and two wireless antennas for 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wi-fi connections. Unlimited broadband customers can choose to use their own router if it's compatible
Plusnet vows to supply broadband to all parts of the UK. However, it reserves the right to increase the cost to customers in areas where it is harder to reach. It says this only constitutes 10% of the UK.
When you sign up with Plusnet you will receive an estimate of the speed you should get. This is an estimate of what your broadband and router is capable of if everything's working at its best.
It will depend on aspects such as the distance from your home to the nearest exchange, as well as temporary factors like severe weather that can degrade the quality of the line.
Plusnet says its network won't slow down at peak times, as others do, but instead you may find that some websites or downloads might not be as fast.
It does tend to rank well for reliability. Plusnet broadband customers are regularly found to be less likely than broadband customers overall to have reasons to complain, according to industry regulator Ofcom.
But this could also be down to it having the longest average call waiting time, taking 7 minutes 27 seconds as of the end of 2016.
Plusnet also had the highest ‘abandonment rate’, with more than one in five customers leaving the call queue before speaking to someone.
Plusnet’s service and reliability can’t be too bad though. It has a trophy cabinet bursting with customer service accolades.
It regularly has higher customer satisfaction ratings when compared with Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk in the monthly GfK consumer attitudes tracker, and has won awards for its customer service, including winning the 2016 Cable.co.uk awards for best customer service and for reliability.
Its customer contact centre is UK-based, is open on live chat or over the phone between 7.30am and 10pm 365 days a year, plus you can identify the best time to call by using live information online that shows how busy the phone lines are.
You can’t beat decent customer service and if you can couple that locally with a decent broadband download and upload speed from Plusnet’s fibre deals, then you may well be onto a winning combination.
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