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Plusnet Essentials broadband review

Tuesday, November 3rd 2015

Update: Plusnet Essentials has been replaced with Plusnet Unlimited following the provider's move to offering only unlimited services. Plusnet Essentials Broadband and Calls is the cheapest broadband package from Plusnet, and is subject to a 10GB usage cap. It comes with inclusive weekend calls as standard and can be upgraded to inclusive anytime calls for an additional monthly cost.

Unlike its faster fibre optic cousins, this broadband plan is ADSL2+ and has an advertised download speed of up to 16Mbps. While slower than comparative fibre broadband plans, the up to 16Mbps download rate is consistent with the ADSL2+ speeds offered by the majority of other broadband providers. Here is everything you need to know about Plusnet’s Essentials Broadband and Calls plan.

Cable.co.uk overall rating
2.4

The Plusnet Essentials Broadband and Calls package is the cheapest broadband plan offered by the provider. While it’s a capped package, you get unlimited downloads overnight, and installation is free. Drawbacks include the 10GB usage cap and the presence of a strict traffic management policy.

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Speed & usage

Rating

2

Advertised download speeds rarely match the actual speed that you’ll get at home. This Plusnet broadband package has an advertised maximum download rate of up to 16Mbps, but the actual speeds are quite different.

We use Ofcom’s latest broadband reports to bring you the actual download speeds you’ll get with your broadband package. In tests, Ofcom reports that the average off-peak download rate for this Plusnet package is between 8.3Mbps and 10.5Mbps. This speed drops slightly during periods of peak use, usually on weekday evenings and weekends.

The 10GB usage cap on this Plusnet offer is too severe to make this a broadband service worth considering for many internet users. We’d recommend that only light and infrequent users consider this package. A light user will use the internet rarely. If you send a dozen emails, browse approximately 100 different websites, or watch two or three YouTube videos in a month, then you’re a light user. Our guide to internet data usage can tell you more.

Plusnet relies on a traffic management policy to ensure consistent speeds across the Plusnet network. Different types of online activity are given different priority ratings, with high priority services being allocated more bandwidth than low priority services. Examples of high priority services include gaming, VoIP and general browsing. Examples of low priority services include peer-to-peer networking and the use of download sites.

Advertised download speed Up to 16Mbps
Average downloads (off-peak) 8.3Mbps – 10.5Mbps
Average downloads (peak) 8.2Mbps – 10.4Mbps
Advertised upload speed Up to 1.3Mbps
Monthly usage limit 10GB
Traffic management Yes
Static IP Optional
Minimum contract 12 months
Router Technicolor 582n
Public wi-fi No
Prices from £19.99 per month
Info

Scroll horizontally for more information.

What you can do with it

Advertised

Actual

The ‘Actual’ speeds are those reported by Ofcom.

Call plan

Rating

3

Plusnet Weekends is included as standard. Plusnet Weekends features inclusive calls to UK landlines, 0845, and 0870 numbers on weekends, along with free calls to Plusnet customers at any time.

The basic Plusnet phone plan can be upgraded to either Plusnet Anytime or Plusnet Anytime International for an additional monthly cost. Plusnet Anytime is an extra £5 per month. It includes anytime calls to UK landlines and 0870 and 0845 numbers. The next phone plan, Plusnet Anytime International, is £7 per month. This contains free anytime calls to UK landlines and 0870 and 0845 numbers, with 300 inclusive minutes for calls to 35 pre-selected international destinations.

Call features can be added to your phone plans. Call waiting, call divert, reminder call and ring-back all cost £2.50 per month each. Anonymous call reject costs £4.00 per month. Having more than one of these call features on your plan will largely increase the cost of your monthly bill.

Extras

Rating

2

There are relatively few extras included with this Plusnet package. An essential bonus for anyone looking to download more than their 10GB allowance is the unlimited overnight downloads extra. With unlimited overnight downloads you can download and upload as much as you like between midnight and 8am without it impacting on your usage cap. If you find the usage cap too limiting, queuing up your downloads to take place overnight is a good work-around.

While it isn’t an extra per se, Plusnet’s UK-based customer services could be considered an additional reason to join the provider. Plusnet’s customer service department has won multiple awards for customer satisfaction in the past, and can be contacted through the website or via the Plusnet phone number: 0800 073 1120.

The Essential Broadband and Calls package is the cheapest broadband service available from Plusnet. The provider’s pricing strategy works a little differently to other telecommunication providers. Instead of a single set price for each package, the pricing zone your property occupies determines the cost per month. These ‘zones’ are determined by the level of competition amongst broadband and phone providers in your area. The more competition, the better your zone and the lower the price of Plusnet’s broadband packages. Essentially, if you live in a city, you’ll pay less for broadband than if you live in the countryside.

Line rental costs £14.50 per month and is required for all Plusnet packages. You can reduce this cost by taking advantage of the Plusnet Line Rental Saver scheme, which allows you to pay for 12 months' line rental up-front at a reduced rate.

You can upgrade your 10GB usage limit to an unlimited usage cap by upgrading to the Unlimited Broadband and Calls package. If you’re a moderate or heavy user, but still want a cheap broadband package, this may be a better bet than sticking with the limited Essentials Broadband plan.

  • Broadband
    Max download speed17Mb
    Max upload speed1Mb
    Monthly usageUnlimited
    Home Phone
    Daytime calls12.50ppm
    Evening calls12.50ppm
    Weekend calls12.50ppm
    Pricing & Contract
    Set-up cost£10
    Contract length12 months
    First year cost £249.88

    £19.99
    per month
    includes line rental

  • Broadband
    Max download speed17Mb
    Max upload speed1Mb
    Monthly usageUnlimited
    Home Phone
    Daytime callsInclusive
    Evening callsInclusive
    Weekend callsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Set-up cost£10
    Contract length12 months
    First year cost £345.88

    £27.99
    per month
    includes line rental

The Plusnet router comes free with this broadband package, though a delivery charge of £5.99 is required. As far as routers go, the Technicolor 582n supplied by Plusnet is serviceable at best. It features four 10/100 ports for physical connections, along with a single wireless band for Wi-Fi connections. This is markedly inferior to the routers of many other broadband providers, who supply routers with dual band technology for multiple wireless connections. Before June 2012, the Technicolor 582n router supplied by Plusnet also featured a USB port. This is no longer the case.

There is no up-front installation charge to get your Plusnet broadband set up. While installation is free, if you need to have a new phone line installed at your property you will have to pay a £49.99 installation charge. You will also need to be present at the property on an arranged day for a visit from an engineer.

Plusnet Router

Overall Rating

2.4

The Plusnet Essentials Broadband and Calls package is a great choice for light internet users looking for a cheap, entry-level plan. For moderate to heavy users, the 10GB cap is too restrictive, even with the added benefit of the free overnight downloads.

If you want to stay with Plusnet broadband for the company’s sterling customer service record, it may be worth taking a look at the Plusnet unlimited package as an alternative. This will negate any problems with usage limits but traffic management will still apply.

Get Plusnet Essentials Broadband

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