All About: Plusnet Broadband

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Plusnet PLC is an internet service provider based in the UK. They offer mobile services, digital TV, broadband and landline telephone services. Since being founded in 1997, Plusnet has been acquired by British Telecom (BT) but still, trades under the same name. They are renowned for their low prices and customer service, as well as being a UK based operation, with all call centres located nationally, having moved back from South Africa. The company has grown over the years to become of the best in the world in this industry. It has a wide range of services offered to the customers which make them feel its trustworthy.

Famous for their Yorkshire roots, Plusnet prides itself on providing broadband services to the common people, both in relation to residential and business broadband. Aimed at 'honest, hard working people’, Plusnet strives to assist the everyday man as well as lending a hand to small businesses, providing a plethora of affordable packages for both broadband and fibre optic.

History

The history of Plusnet is a rich and complex one. From beginning as a small startup in Sheffield to expanding to a national corporation, Plusnet has not lost its Yorkshire roots, despite having grown to become one of the largest and most popular internet providers in the UK. Sticking to the principles of Yorkshire manners, Plusnet has journeyed through growth and acquisitions still carrying the initial customer-facing attitude it always has, allowing them to win a multitude of awards and to grow rapidly. Expanding from mere internet provider services to adding additional services for TV and most recently Plusnet Mobile.

Plusnet was born in February 1997 in Sheffield, Yorkshire when their sister company Force9’ was launched by Choice Peripherals. The early start of Plusnet was heavily influenced by Paul Cusack (Chairman) and Lee Strafford (Managing Director). Paul Cusack later went on to create Ebuyer, while Lee Strafford worked leading the development of Plusnet until it was acquired by BT.

Founded in the eras of dial-up, most of the original products traded under Force9, and launched a popular internet providing service called Demon Internet which offered a monthly subscription for internet with the added cost of local calls. For their subscribers, they offered a lower cost service at just £6 plus VAT. By marketing their product through Yorkshire Cable in October 1997, offering a discounted subscription rate to Yorkshire Cable customers, Force9 managed to break the 5000 subscriber mark. Simultaneously, the software devised by Force9 Internet was provided with ever ordered modem purchased through Choice Peripherals.

The business grew rapidly, leading to a restructuring of the business, whereby Choice Peripherals and Force9 were headed up by the umbrella company named Plusnet Technologies Limited in November 1997. The name Plusnet was not originally used for internet services, but for products sold by Force9’s business sales team, mainly line leases services for server colocation to small to medium enterprises.

Choice Peripherals was acquired by an American firm in April 1998 called Insight Enterprises, who had a major interest in the e-commerce angle of operations occurring in Choice Peripherals rather than the internet provider services supplied by Force9. With that in mind, while Force9 still operated with Choice Peripherals, Insight left Lee Strafford to run that branch of the company as he per the usual schedule, without much change to operation or structure.

In April 1999 Force9 rebranded themselves F9 and began to offer a new internet provider service known as unmetered’ dial up, which provided internet access at 0800 free call rate during weekend hours. They used the rebrand as a method to market their new promotion. However, by mid-2000, F9 was rebranded again to Plusnet when they introduced a new marketing offer of Surftime’ dial-up, which was to become the original genuine unmetered dial-up package offered in the UK.

As dial-up expanded and more people switched over to becoming internet users, Plusnet grew dramatically in the UK. This exploded with the introduction of ADSL broadband internet in August 2000, the technology that would go on to become the most popular form of internet for the next 15 years. This first 512 kbit/s broadband service was a swift move forward to the way internet is provided today. This spurred the launch of Plusnet’s first broadband package, launched the same day as BT established their package. Around this time, Plusnet launched their first website, along with business packages to support their residential broadband packages.

Plusnet continued developing their products as download speeds increased, adding new packages and improving upon the last. While in the beginning a BT engineer was needed to install broadband systems into the home, Plusnet leapt forward in January 2002 by unveiling a broadband product with a self-install’ feature. This allowed people to set up the internet by themselves in their own homes without needing a third party professional to provide the service.

In 2004, Plusnet became a Plc after being floated on the Alternative Investment Market. During this time, Plusnet stayed true to its Yorkshire roots, using its homegrown nature as a marketing tool. This was most obviously seen when Plusnet became the main sponsor of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club in 2004, the same year that Plusnet won the Best Consumer ISP and Customer Service Award according, awarded by Future UK Internet Awards.

Plusnet continued to grow as it acquired Parbin Limited in November 2005 along with its internet provider service MetroNet. Metronet was a consumer ISP service which was providing a series of packaged for pay-as-you-go broadband at the time they were acquired. Not only did Plusnet acquire Metronet, with this switchover came the acquisition of a handful of other brands, namely INUK, Port995 and Pay as You Host. This same year, Plusnet was recognised locally for their technological advancements by Sheffield Business Awards who granted them the Information and Communications Technology Award.

In 2006, Plusnet put themselves on the map for their customer service when they became the winners of the Highest Overall Customer Satisfaction’ award by USwitch, beating all other internet service providers in the UK, while also scooping up the Best Customer Service prize from PC Advisor. They have gone on to win the USwitch Award for customer service every year since 2006 until the present day.

In late 2006, Plusnet was made an offer by BT to sell all shares and hand over their business with a deal valuing at around £67 million. This deal was taken in early 2007. Following this, both Lee Strafford and the former finance director were dismissed from their duties by BT and replaced by BT employees. Neil Laycock, who had previously worked for BT but had been working in senior capacities for Plusnet in the most recent years, became Chief Executive Officer.

BT continued to grow Plusnet by acquiring Brightview Group and its secondary company Madasafish’ in July 2007. These companies began trading under Plusnet’s name.

In 2010, Plusnet began to focus back on their roots in Yorkshire, expanding their reach to the community and using this as a springboard for marketing. They moved 100 call centres from South Africa back to the UK, creating over 250 jobs. This was supported by their new campaign as the Good Honest Broadband from Yorkshire’, as the increase their national reach by becoming the sponsor of Celebrity Big Brother.

In 2012, Plusnet introduced fibre optic broadband packages followed by the launch of Plusnet TV in 2014, which was quickly usurped in 2015 by YouView TV from Plusnet. In 2016, the company moved forward with attempting to attract more business customers, by appealing to small businesses as the Champion of Small Businesses’, while launching their own mobile phone brand, Plusnet Mobile.

Target Audience

Plusnet has two main target audiences: residential and business.

On the residential side, Plusnet tries to target ordinary people. With marketing campaigns that reach out to the everyman’, Plusnet focuses on their UK based services and their Yorkshire roots. This can be seen in their advertising campaigns that feature Yorkshire Joe’. The very concept behind this is to add simplicity which appeals to regular family homes, helping the average person to understand the need for Plusnet broadband and other services in their homes. With a stereotypical history of being honest and straight-talking, Yorkshire, the home of Plusnet is a huge feature in how Plusnet target their audience. By providing an honest’ system with an honest’ character in their advertisements, Plusnet hopes to attract a similar customer. Unlike other brands such as Sky who aim to target more upmarket, educated, middle-class citizens, Plusnet’s target audience is the average working man, personified by Yorkshire Joe’, creating an air of familiarity.

Furthermore, Plusnet aims to target customers who value British heritage, playing on a sense of national pride. By returning call centres to the UK, this both creates pride in Britain coupled with targeting customers who are frustrated with talking to foreign call centres. Their emphasis on UK operations and their physical placement within the country targets customers born and bred’ in the UK, again angling toward the honest, working class’. Moreover, renowned for their friendly customer service, Plusnet aims to mimic the customer's to which they are targeting their products. The friendliness helps to entice the traditional family unit, creating a sense of closeness and familiarity as well as promoting community.

In the same light, Plusnet strives to build community connections in both in the local Sheffield community and nationally. The launch of Plusnet Support Community in 2009 has led to the company aiding charities such as The Children’s Hospital Charity and Cash for Kids, placing Plusnet in the sphere as a household family name. By targeting children’s charities, Plusnet brings the younger generation into their midst and exaggerate their focus on family, inciting more custom from the family sector of the potential target audience.

Equally, Plusnet is revered for their consistent low, competitive pricing structures. They offer a range of packages which make them affordable at every level of consumption. This is to target customers with less disposable income, positioning themselves as the honest’ broadband provider of the common person.

In terms of business, Plusnet first tried to target an extensive business base from major corporations to small and medium businesses. However, over time, their target audience has shifted, mimicking the business version of their residential audience. Instead of aiming toward large corporations and conglomerates, Plusnet instead focuses on small businesses.

The marketing campaign entitled Champion of Small Businesses’ directly represents their target audience. They aim to look at the local level business, functioning on a slightly lower level. They market their products on the premise that every business has the right to a reasonable price for internet while backing their financial promises up with strong customer support.

When discussing the particular avenues in which they aim to target, Plusnet themselves name businesses such as florists, corner shops, and architects. However, their marketing campaigns often mention tech startups, hinting toward the concept that Plusnet ideally imagines growing with new startups that aim to become larger entities.

Current Broadband Deals and Offers

Residential Broadband

Plusnet offers a variety of residential broadband packages, all of which are unlimited, meaning no monthly usage restrictions. Their straight forward Unlimited package enables download speeds of up 17Mb. This is determined by the quality of the phone line, the distance from the telephone exchange and can be weather-dependent. While the router costs £6.99 postage and packaging, the router itself is free, despite being worth £40. If you do not need a router as you already own one, you can check if it works with Plusnet and waive the £6.99 in favour of using your own.

Prices are dependent on the length of contract For a 12-month contract which includes line rental, the cost for the package is usually £25 per month plus the fee for the router. However, currently, Plusnet are having a sale, with deals on this package. The offer ends in 12 days, but if purchased within that time the package only costs £20 per month plus the router delivery fee. However, this package is for an 18-month contract as opposed to just 12 months, but you do receive a gift of £50 cashback for purchasing this offer. If you would like a package which has fewer obligations, Plusnet does offer a package which has an initial contract of 12 months but has no annual contract following the initial period. This costs £22.99 for the first 12 months followed by £30.48 with no annual contract. This means it can be cancelled at any stage. However, this deal costs an additional upfront fee of £31.99 plus the cost of router delivery.

With all Unlimited broadband packages, Plusnet offers free activation, worth £25 plus added security measures. Packages include Plusnet Safeguard which is a parental control tool to limit online browsing and protect from harmful websites and Plusnet Protect which is an antivirus and security tool powered by McAfee. It si also free to call their support team, which is based in the UK.

Plusnet also offers fibre optic broadband to its residential customers. All their fibre optic packages off unlimited browsing without data limits. Fibre optic packages increase the download speeds considerably which enables TV streaming, faster gaming, and quicker uploads and downloads.

The Unlimited Fibre package gives you download speeds of up to 38Mb, includes line rental, and costs £32.99 a month with a 12-month contract, plus the £6.99 router delivery fee. However, currently, Plusnet has an offer on an 18-month contract for the same package. This costs just £27.50 a month for the same download speeds and add extras.

Plusnet offers a more advanced package called Unlimited Fibre Extra which offers download speeds of up to 76Mb, included line rental and unlimited usage. The 12-month contract costs £37.50 per month. However, they have an equally good deal for an 18-month contract of just £32.50 per month plus the router delivery fee.

Fibre optic packages include all the safety measures and support of regular broadband while offering a discount to customers who recommend friends and family to switch totPlusnet. Activation usually costs £50 for fibre optic, but this is also included in the monthly price.

Plusnet also offers package bundles for those who would like to add a call plan to their broadband package. This comes at an additional cost, starting as low as £4 per month. You can also reduce line rental fees by paying for 12 months in advance.

Business Packages

Plusnet offers extremely affordable business packages. Their most basic is the Business Broadband package. It includes download speeds of up to 18Mb and an upload speed of 2Mb, with a 25GB data usage allowance. On a 24 month contract, it costs just £8 a month plus £10.50 line rental fee. It also includes a basic all plan.

However, Plusnet is currently having a special offer on their Unlimited Business Broadband Package. For the first 12 months, it costs just £1.99 a month plus £12.50 line rental fee. This increases to £15.00 a month after the first 12 months. It provides download speeds of up to 18Mbs plus unlimited data usage. This package is a 12-month contract, and it also includes a basic phone plan.

For fibre optic, Plusnet offers a simple 24-month contract. The Business Fibre Broadband package provides download speeds of up to 76Mb with a 9.5Mb upload speed. The package offers a 50Gb data usage allowance plus a basic call plan. This costs £23.00 a month plus £10 line rental fee.

The Unlimited Business Fibre Broadband package is currently on offer. While providing unlimited data usage, it also provides 76Mb download speeds and 19Mb upload speeds with a basic call plan. It costs just £21.50 a month for the first 12 months plus a £12.00 line rental fee. The cost increases to £35.00 a month thereafter.

All the packages include the router fee. However, they cost an additional £4.99 a month for the posting and packaging of this router. PlusnetSafeGuard is included with all business packages as is a static IP and 24-hour support, seven days a week from their UK-based call centres. The packages also include the added bonus of unlimited overnight usage. This means that between the hours of midnight and 8 am, you can use the package as much as you want without eating into the data usage allowance. Moreover, the package provides a free web domain with the suffix .co.uk and 250Mb of web hosting space. It also allows for the creation of unlimited email addresses registered under this domain. All packages include the option to upgrade the call plan at a small extra fee per month.

Conclusion

Plusnet provides excellent broadband services across a wide range of markets. Its residential market is based upon honesty and rekindling the British spirit. While they offer the lowest prices, allowing them to compete with much larger companies, Plusnet is able to target the lower end of the consumer market. This is done through clever marketing which targets family consumers with good, honest principles, mimicking the Yorkshire stereotype from whence Plusnet was born. The Business Fibre Broadband package provides download speeds of up to 76Mb with a 9.5Mb upload speed. The package offers a 50Gb data usage allowance plus a basic call plan. This costs £23.00 a month plus £10 line rental fee.

Furthermore, they pride themselves on their customer service, having consistently won the U Switch award for customer service since 2006. By bringing their call centres back to the UK and providing 24 hour support, customers are flocking to join a company that actually suits their needs with prices that don’t break the bank. What’s more, they offer both Plusnet Broadband and fibre optic with unlimited internet access, rivalling most packages offered by more expensive brands.

In terms of business broadband, Plusnet also offers a whole range of services which help to get small businesses off the ground. With a heavy focus on affordability and customer service, Plusnet is able to gain trust from startup companies looking to find a provider who can then offer them a deal which will help grow their company.

Moreover, the business broadband deals that are offered, with prices as low as £1.99 a month enable small businesses to get going without having to worry about extortionate startup costs being blown on their broadband budgets.

Overall, Plusnet provides a great deal of support for their customers and the surrounding community., Priding themselves on their Yorkshire heritage and the friendliness it stands for, Plusnet work together with the local community to provide support to establishments such as Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, youth clubs and other entities, as well as supporting charities and causes on a more national level. This demonstrated their caring capacity, which is translated into their service and down to their low prices.



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