Plusnet vs BT Broadband

Last updated: 20 June 2024   By Samantha Smith

BT and Plusnet are both owned by the same company, although they target very different audiences.

BT is the most well-known broadband provider, with a range of deals from Fibre Essentials to a gigabit-capable full fibre connection.

Plusnet, owned by BT, is a more pared-down budget brand, with cheaper prices but less optional extras like phone or TV available to be added.

Overall, Plusnet are hard to beat on price for households who want a straightforward broadband connection, but BT will win where extras like home phone, TV and WiFi boosters are required.

plusnet vs bt

In this guide:

1. Price

2. Packages

3. Speed

4. Router


At a glance

Plusnet BT
Monthly price From £24.99 From £28.99
Setup cost Free Free
Minimum term 24 months 24 months
Annual price rise CPI + 3.9% CPI + 3.9%
Connection Part-fibre, full fibre Part-fibre, full fibre
Download speeds 66Mb, 74Mb, 145Mb, 300Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb 36Mb, 50Mb, 67Mb, 150Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb
Upload speeds 17Mb, 20Mb, 30Mb, 50Mb, 75Mb, 115Mb 9Mb, 18Mb, 30Mb, 73Mb, 110Mb
Router Plusnet Hub Two BT Smart Hub 2
WiFi guarantee N/a BT Complete WiFi
Parental controls Plusnet SafeGuard BT Parental Controls
Home phone Not available £5 per month
Anytime calls N/a £18/mth (inc. UK mobiles)
TV Not available EE TV

Best deals

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 145 145Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £12/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £30.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)

Price

Winner: Plusnet offer cheaper broadband deals than BT does, but packages have less optional extras to choose from.

Plusnet is owned by BT, and resells access to the same part-fibre and full fibre Openreach network. Despite this, their pricing remains much more competitive in comparison to that of BT.

Customers can save £5 per month across the comparable Plusnet Fibre and BT Fibre 2 plans which offer fibre to the cabinet connections. However, BT also offer slower speeds here, so it is possible to save an extra pound with BT, but Plusnet is still cheaper.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £5/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Fibre 2 67Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £7/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)

In terms of full fibre broadband options, Plusnet is also cheaper than BT, with their entry-level deal starting at £27.99 per month, compared to £30.99 per month with BT.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 74 74Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £6/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £30.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)

Setup fees are both free with each provider, and customers will also receive similar routers, with BT customers getting the BT Smart Hub 2, and Plusnet customers receiving the Plusnet Hub Two - a rebranded version of the same device, albeit with different firmware.

Both BT and Plusnet implement annual price rises, although BT has moved to a pounds and pence method, so prices will go up by £3 in April of year, while Plusnet is still using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation plus 3.9%.

Aside from basic price however, there are tangible differences between the providers, with Plusnet offering little to no optional extras, and BT customers having the choice of a digital home phone line, inclusive call plans, a whole home WiFi guarantee, a set-top box TV platform, and even more premium options with Halo.

Overall, Plusnet is a great budget choice for those who want a simple and straightforward broadband plan. However, BT is the better option for anyone who wants - or needs - a more comprehensive telecoms package.


Broadband packages

Winner: BT offer more comprehensive broadband packages than Plusnet, with features a customer may need, such as a WiFi boosters and home phone plans.

While Plusnet is cheaper than BT for broadband, many customers may find they simply don't offer enough services for their household's needs.

As a more premium provider, customers with BT can choose from a variety of optional extras to fine-tune their service, including adding a home phone line and bundling mesh WiFi boosters where signal needs improving in the home, options which we look at in more detail below.

In terms of broadband speed, Plusnet and BT offer similar choices, with both providing a range of full fibre options, as well as a part-fibre deal for those in areas yet to be upgraded to full fibre.

The provider's full fibre plans side-by-side look like this:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 74 74Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £6/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Full Fibre 145 145Mb average £27.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £12/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Full Fibre 300 300Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £15/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £30.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)
Full Fibre 500 500Mb average £32.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £20/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 300 300Mb average £34.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £10/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £39.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £22/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £44.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £15/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)

As you can see, Plusnet is noticeably cheaper than BT for full fibre broadband, but as mentioned, customers can't add a digital home phone line or get other extras they may want or need like a WiFi guarantee, mobile broadband back-up, or a bundled TV plan.

For those living in non-full fibre areas, Plusnet and BT's part-fibre deals are:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Save over £5/mth + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers (Ends 17/07/2024)
Fibre Essential 36Mb average £33.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)
Fibre 2 67Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £7/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)
Fibre 1 50Mb average £34.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months (Ends 08/08/2024)

Again, Plusnet is cheaper than BT and also offers one simple plan which will deliver speeds as fast as a fibre-to-the-cabinet connection can reach.

All plans from BT can have a phone line added for an extra £5 per month, with inclusive call plans available to add for extra as well. BT's Complete WiFi service can also be added for an extra £10 per month, and this offers up to 3 WiFi boosters and a guarantee of good wireless signal in every room in a home.

Further services are available with BT including a bundled premium TV service with a recordable box-set, and BT Halo - which adds benefits including tech support and an automatic 4G mobile broadband back-up system for homes that need an ultra-reliable connection.

Both providers are similar in terms of contract length, with 24-month minimum terms on all plans, and both offer free setup so there is minimal outlay to get going.

Overall, Plusnet beat BT on price, but BT offer more choice and flexibility with options to add a home phone line, TV bundle, and boost wireless speeds in the home with a WiFi guarantee, and may well cater better for people who work from home who need extra levels of reliability.

Read more in our full reviews of Plusnet broadband and BT broadband.


Broadband speed

Winner: BT beat Plusnet for speed, but only just. BT's Complete WiFi guarantee helps customers experience faster broadband speeds around the home, but technical connections are the same.

BT and Plusnet both offer broadband over the Openreach network, and as Plusnet is owned by BT too there is little difference in the way their systems work.

Both providers offer similar speed choices, with their fastest packages reaching the same 900Mbps on average at peak times.

However, BT customers may be able to experience slightly faster speeds than Plusnet, due to the optional WiFi guarantee helping to boost wireless speeds around the home.

BT offer the following broadband speed choices:

Average download speed Average upload speed
Fibre Essentials 36Mbps 9Mbps
Fibre 1 50Mbps 9Mbps
Fibre 2 67Mbps 18Mbps
Full Fibre 100 150Mbps 30Mbps
Full Fibre 500 500Mbps 73Mbps
Full Fibre 900 900Mbps 110Mbps

These advertised average download speeds must be received by at least 50% of BT's customers during the peak hours of 8pm to 10pm when the network is busiest. As such, they're a reliable measurement of how fast a connection is likely to be.

Plusnet's average broadband speed options are:

Average download speed Average upload speed
Fibre 66Mb 17Mb
Full Fibre 74 74Mb 20Mb
Full Fibre 145 145Mb 30Mb
Full Fibre 300 300Mb 50Mb
Full Fibre 500 500Mb 75Mb
Full Fibre 900 900Mb 115Mb

Upload speeds are also similar between Plusnet and BT, again because they use the same network. Uploads are slower than downloads with both providers, and neither provider offers symmetrical uploads yet.

In addition to these average speeds, BT and Plusnet are also both signed up to Ofcom's code of practice on broadband speeds, which means they also provide customers with a personalised estimate and minimum speed guarantee when they sign up.

This means that customers are given a service quality guarantee - or a promise that if their broadband speed falls below a specified minimum, that they are free to cancel their contract and switch to another provider without having to pay any early exit fees.

Here are the minimum speed guarantees of a selection of Plusnet and BT broadband deals for two locations, one with full fibre and one without:

Estimated download speed range Minimum guaranteed download speed
BT Fibre Essentials 35 - 36Mb 32Mb
BT Fibre 2 71 - 73Mb 68Mb
Plusnet Fibre 71 - 72Mb 71Mb
BT Full Fibre 100 150Mb 100Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 145 145Mb 80Mb
BT Full Fibre 500 500Mb 425Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 500 500Mb 275Mb
BT Full Fibre 900 900Mb 700Mb
Plusnet Full Fibre 900 900Mb 500Mb

While they'll often be the same, minimum speed guarantees and personalised estimates can vary between locations. However, from the table above we can see BT offers faster minimum speeds than Plusnet does for equivalent packages.


Router

Winner: It's a tie. BT offer the BT Smart Hub 2, but Plusnet's Hub Two is a rebranded version of the same hardware, just with different firmware and casing.

BT and Plusnet effectively use the same router, so the specifications and capability of the router are the same, although the different firmware could produce slightly different performance results.

The BT Smart Hub 2 and Plusnet Hub Two offer up to the WiFi 5 protocol, which is 802.11ac, and use dual-band wireless with both a 2.4GHz and 5GHz channel.

Both routers have seven internal antennae, so reception and signal strength should be the same, and both offer three 1Gbps Ethernet LAN ports.

Here are the specifications of each router side-by-side:

BT Smart Hub 2 Plusnet Hub Two
WiFi protocol 5 (802.11ac) 5 (802.11ac)
WiFi band Dual-band Dual-band
Mesh Yes No
Ethernet LAN 4 x 1Gb 3 x 1Gb
Antennae 7 7

One main difference between the BT Smart Hub 2 and Plusnet Hub Two is that BT's router supports mesh, and works in conjunction with WiFi boosters in BT's Complete WiFi add-on to help boost wireless speeds and coverage around a home.

Plusnet doesn't offer a whole home WiFi guarantee at all, and as such, it's router isn't built to support mesh devices. To use mesh Plusnet customers would have to connect a mesh hub to the router via LAN, and then mesh boosters could talk to the hub. These devices would need to be purchased separately however, and wouldn't be supported by Plusnet's technical team.

Overall, while we've tied Plusnet and BT on this measure, the BT Smart Hub 2 may be the better choice for customers who want to access supported WiFi boosters.

Read more about the best routers offered by broadband providers.


Broadband extras

Winner: BT beat Plusnet for extra services, especially now Plusnet have closed their mobile and TV services.

While Plusnet are cheaper than BT for a straightforward broadband plan, for customers willing to pay more, BT have a wide range of extra services that can be bundled which aren't an option with Plusnet at all.

Home phone

All Plusnet broadband deals now come without a phone line and no option to add one, whereas BT customers can choose to add a digital home phone line with pay as you go calls for £5 per month extra.

BT home phone customers get BT Call Protect and Caller Display for free, which help to prevent nuisance and spam callers.

Customers can also add one an unlimited minutes call plan for an extra £18 per month, but this covers all calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles at any time.

WiFi guarantee & BT Halo

As mentioned, Plusnet don't offer a whole home WiFi guarantee, but BT broadband customers can add BT Complete WiFi for an extra £10 per month.

Complete WiFi promises a 'strong connection' as displayed on BT's app in every room of your home or you can claim £100 back. Customers will be sent up to three WiFi Discs to place around their home which will seamlessly boost their wireless coverage, whilst also improving WiFi speeds.

It's not the best whole home WiFi guarantee on the market, but it is one of the better ones.

For those who need an ultra-reliable broadband connection, BT customers can also add Hybrid Connect. It costs £7.55 per month and basically offers an automatic connection to EE's 4G mobile broadband network if the BT broadband ever goes down.

These extra services are also included with BT Halo, which also offers features like free access to Home Tech Experts, a free upgrade to full fibre when it reaches your area, and double data on all household BT Mobile and EE Mobile plans.

TV

One final area BT excel over Plusnet in is for bundled TV services, which Plusnet no longer offers.

BT's TV service, which has now been rebranded as EE TV, can be bundled with any BT broadband deal, and brings discounts to households looking to watch premium content, particularly Sky Entertainment, Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, and TNT Sports channels.

BT TV customers get the recordable BT TV Box Pro, and a choice of packages built around NOW's TV Membership plans, which offer access to Sky TV, plus additional content through Netflix and Discovery+.

Read more about BT TV packages.


Customer service

Winner: Plusnet had fewer complaints than BT in 2023, and they also have more customers satisfied with their service and the speed of their broadband service than BT.

Customer service is vital in a broadband provider. No matter how reliable, connections do occasionally go down - and being able to deal with it quickly makes a massive difference.

Despite a disastrous billing system upgrade in 2018 that pushed complaint figures high into 2019 and beyond, Plusnet have a fairly good customer service record and frequently feature as one of our best providers for customer service.

Yet a look at Plusnet and BT side by side in Ofcom's latest customer service data, and we can see BT pull ahead on some key customer service metrics:

BT Plusnet
Overall satisfaction 83% 89%
Satisfaction with speed of service 80% 83%
Complaints per 100,000 customers in 2023 47 43
Satisfaction with complaints handling 55% 53%
Customers with a reason to complain 19% 20%
Complaints resolved on first contact 44% 37%

Plusnet has a higher percentage of customers that are satisfied with their service overall, as well as with the speed of their broadband service than BT does.

However, despite generating slightly more complaints per 100,000 customers than Plusnet throughout 2023, BT perform better on complaints handling, with more customers satisfied with how their complaint was handled, more complaints resolved on first contact, and fewer customers with a reason to complain (regardless of whether they actually logged the complaint).

So, overall, both providers perform fairly similarly in terms of customer service, which is perhaps unsurprising considering they've both been owned by the BT Group for several years now.

We also know that both Plusnet and BT have entirely UK-based customer call centres now, with BT bringing back their call centre operations to the UK at the start of 2020, and Plusnet always being based out of Yorkshire.

If we had to choose, we'd probably pick Plusnet for customer service over BT, however, these days, in reality there is probably little in it.


Verdict: Which is better: Plusnet or BT for broadband?

Overall winner: Despite being more expensive, BT offer a much more comprehensive service than Plusnet, and customers can get access and support to additional services they may need.

In many ways, there's no objective winner in the Plusnet vs BT argument. Each provider has its strengths and weaknesses, and there's not a lot of overlap. Despite both being broadband providers, they're not really competitors.

Being owned by the same parent company means BT and Plusnet are specifically targeted to reach different audiences and attract a different customer base. Plusnet are a low-cost broadband provider with no frills, whereas BT is a more well-rounded telecoms provider with a host of other features and services customers can dip into if they need or want those extras.

So, the right choice between Plusnet and BT will depend on what a customer values most: a low monthly cost for a straightforward broadband connection, or the option to add services like home phone, TV, boosted WiFi coverage and automatic 4G back-up devices.

In terms of broadband speeds, both providers offer the same variations in choices, with both offering a gigabit-capable package, as well as similarly spec'd routers.

Ultimately, we'd pick Plusnet for a simple broadband deal, but many customers will find the extra services BT offers necessary, which means BT may be a better option for many.

Compare broadband deals side-by-side here.

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