EE vs Plusnet: who's best for broadband?

Last updated: 4 May 2021   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

EE and Plusnet are big names in UK broadband, both providing superfast services nationwide using the Openreach network.

home broadband

In this guide:


At a glance

EE Plusnet
Price From £23.50/mth From £18.50/mth
Basic broadband 10Mb 10Mb
Fibre broadband Up to 900Mb average
Unlimited
Up to 66Mb average
Unlimited
Inclusive calls None None
Anytime UK calls £8/mth
Includes 1,500 minutes to UK mobiles
£9/mth
Includes 2,000 minutes to UK mobiles
TV Mobile customers only None
Minimum term 18-months 18-months

Special offers

Both EE and Plusnet regularly have special offers running for their customers. Use the links below to get the latest deals:

Offer Terms

Plusnet Full Fibre broadband from just £27.99/mth for 145Mbps download speeds

24 month minimum term. No set up cost. £40.04/mth after 24 months. Price rises each year on 31 March by CPI + 3.9%


Plusnet Fibre broadband just £25.99/mth

Hurry! Offer ends 29 May 2024

24 month minimum term. No set up cost. £30/mth after 24 months. Price rises each year on 31 March by CPI + 3.9%


Broadband deals

Winner: Plusnet's deals are better value, although EE offer ultrafast broadband.

EE and Plusnet both offer superfast fibre broadband delivered over the Openreach network with similar speeds. All their deals are on 18-month contracts.

Here's how their deals currently compare:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Unlimited Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months
Unlimited Fibre Extra 66Mb average £26.99 Free 24 months
Fibre 36Mb average £26 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Fibre Plus 67Mb average £29 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup

As the table shows, Plusnet are the cheaper of the two, often charging less for their 66Mb package than EE do for their 36Mb package.

This matches the ethos of the two providers: Plusnet are a budget brand often included in tables of the cheapest broadband deals in the UK while EE's broadband packages are targeted at customers searching for a premium experience with a higher quality router (see below).

EE have also moved into the ultrafast broadband market, offering services where the Openreach FTTP has reached or where G.fast services are available.

Here are those deals:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre Max 100 100Mb average £31 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 20GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Full Fibre Max 500 500Mb average £39.50 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 6 month free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 20GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Full Fibre Max Gigabit 900Mb average £49 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 12 month free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 20GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup

Plusnet have yet to move into the ultrafast market, although there are rumours they're set to do so at some point during 2021. If they do, they're likely to apply the same budget ethos to their ultrafast deals as they do to their superfast packages, pricing them competitively against EE's deals.

There's one further package type to compare: standard copper broadband:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Unlimited + Line only 10Mb average £25.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price + No setup fee + Exclusive offers and discounts for Plusnet customers
Broadband 10Mb average £26 £10 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers

Again, Plusnet is much cheaper at this level and, for those customers who aren't interested in superfast broadband, they're a good option.

However, be aware that Plusnet still operate geographical pricing in a tiny minority of locations, meaning broadband from them may be more expensive in certain areas.

Use our postcode checker to see broadband deals from multiple providers in your area.


Price

Winner: Plusnet are the cheaper of the two, but EE offer discounts for mobile customers.

Plusnet broadband is firmly targeted at the budget end of the spectrum. This means they are invariably one of the cheaper ISPs, often considerably cheaper than EE.

If it comes down to price alone, Plusnet will usually triumph over EE.

EE mobile customers

Customers who also take pay monthly mobile services from EE are eligible for a 10% discount on their monthly broadband bill.

They will also receive a data boost to their mobile account, ranging from 5GB extra per month up to 20GB depending on which package a customer signs up to.

For existing customers of EE's mobile services and those looking to bundle several services together from one provider, these incentives could make all the difference.

Learn more about EE as a mobile provider.


Speed

Winner: Real-world testing shows EE slightly ahead.

EE and Plusnet both advertise similar superfast fibre speeds:

Entry-level superfast Higher-level superfast
EE 36Mb 67Mb
Plusnet 36Mb 66Mb

In line with advertising guidelines, these advertised speeds must be able to be reached by at least 50% of households at peak times (8pm to 10pm).

As well as the promises put forward by EE and Plusnet, we also have independent testing from Ofcom to show how customers experience their broadband in the real world.

These are the results from Ofcom's most recent annual report for the 36Mb packages:

ofcom average broadband speeds fibre

At this level, EE are slightly ahead of Plusnet in real-world speed experience, with Plusnet struggling to reach their advertised 36Mb broadband speeds.

And these are Ofcom's results at the higher end of the superfast packages:

ofcom average broadband speeds faster fibre

Here, neither EE nor Plusnet reach the speeds advertised, although EE do get closer.

Overall, the packages offered by the two providers are similar in terms of the real-world speeds achieved, but EE are slightly ahead.

Find out more about what affects broadband speeds around the home.


Routers

Winner: EE has a more advanced router.

As both EE and Plusnet are part of the BT family, it's unsurprising that they both offer repackaged versions of BT's routers.

However, EE broadband customers will receive the EE Smart Hub, a repackaged version of BT's latest router, while Plusnet customers will receive the older style Plusnet Hub One which was marketed by BT as the Home Hub 5.

Here are some of the main specs of the routers:

EE Smart Hub Plusnet Hub One
Wi-fi bands Dual band
Next generation AC wi-fi
Dual band
AC wi-fi
Connections 4 x Gigabit Ethernet 4 x Gigabit Ethernet
Antennas 7 5
Built-in 4G filters Yes No
Smart Wireless Yes Yes

If we consider that the Plusnet Hub One is the technological precursor to the EE Smart Hub, it's clear EE offer a superior router, although the Plusnet Hub One will usually be more than satisfactory for the superfast broadband speeds they offer.

Find out more about the home routers provided by major broadband companies.

EE's Smart WiFi

EE offer another router to customers willing to sign up to their Smart WiFi service: the Smart WiFi Router.

The main difference between the two hubs is that the Smart WiFi Router is equipped to work with Smart WiFi Discs to boost the wi-fi signal around a customer's home.

Smart WiFi costs £10 extra per month on top of a household's usual broadband package and includes the following:

  • Smart WiFi Router
  • 1 x Smart Disc
  • A 4GEE WiFi Mini portable hotspot as broadband back-up

Although only one Smart Disc is included as standard with EE Smart WiFi, an extra two can be provided to improve the wi-fi signal around the home.

There's more information about EE Smart WiFi in our guide to broadband speed guarantees and boosters.


Call plans

Winner: EE's anytime call plan is slightly better value.

EE are keen to encourage customers to bundle a broadband deal with a pay monthly mobile contract as we've already discussed, so they don't have a wide range of home phone call plans.

These are the two options:

Call plan What it offers Price per month
Anytime calls to landlines and mobiles Anytime calls to UK landlines and 1,500 inclusive minutes to UK mobiles £8
Anytime UK and International calls As above plus anytime calls to landlines in 50 countries, 30% discount to landline numbers in the rest of the world £12

Conversely, Plusnet have a slightly wider range, and the Evening & Weekend UK & Mobile plan may offer all the minutes a customer needs if they only use their home phone after 7pm on a weekday evening.

Here's how their plans look:

Call plan What it offers Price per month
Evening & Weekend UK & Mobile Evening and weekend calls to UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers plus 1,000 minutes to UK mobiles £5
Unlimited UK & Mobile Anytime calls to UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers plus 2,000 minutes to UK mobiles £9
Anytime International Anytime calls to UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers plus 300 minutes to landlines in 35 international destinations (+ mobiles in US and Canada) £9
Mobile Minutes 100 anytime minutes to UK mobiles £3

Ultimately, the differences between the two providers' call plans aren't huge, and it's unlikely to be the deciding factor when a customer is choosing their next broadband deal.

EE wins by virtue of being slightly cheaper, but there's very little in it.


TV

Winner: EE offer a basic TV service, but only to mobile customers.

EE offer Apple TV 4K to customers who take pay monthly mobile services from them. In this sense, then, the option of TV is available to EE broadband customers, but only those who also take mobile services.

Apple TV 4K is a set-top box offering access to streaming apps and catch-up services. These include:

  • Apple TV+
  • Netflix
  • Now
  • Disney+
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • BBC iPlayer

Note: some of these will require extra subscriptions.

As basic as EE's TV platform is, at least they offer one. Plusnet confirmed in January 2021 they were no longer taking orders for their YouView TV service and instead were refocusing their brand on providing excellent customer service.


Customer service

Winner: EE have a better recent customer service record.

EE have a strong recent record when it comes to customer complaints, and they're consistently vying with Sky to record the lowest quarterly complaint figures of any broadband provider.

As the most recent Ofcom complaint trends show, EE are far below the industry average while Plusnet's figures are above average:

ofcom broadband complaints q4 2020

On this metric, then, EE are far ahead of their rival, but it's worth taking a closer look at the Comparing Service Quality report released by Ofcom in August 2020.

This showed Plusnet were the leading ISP for customer satisfaction, so let's take a look at some of their scores side-by-side with EE's:

EE Plusnet
Satisfaction with overall service 88% 93%
Satisfaction with reliability of service 87% 85%
Satisfaction with speed of service 85% 82%
Customers with a reason to complain 15% 14%
Overall satisfaction with complain handling 66% 49%
Complaints completely resolved on first contact 45% 33%
Average call waiting time 26 seconds 3 minutes 48 seconds
Calls abandoned before speaking to a representative 1.7% 10%

As the table shows, it's a bit of a mixed bag, with Plusnet taking the overall satisfaction crown but struggling on some metrics, notably how long it takes them to answer the phone and how satisfied customers are with their complaints handling.

It's worth noting the fieldwork for this report took place in 2019, so the figures are a little dated now. For that reason, we think EE's recent low levels of complaints should have a greater weight, and that's why we believe they are the better ISP for customer service.


Our verdict: EE or Plusnet?

Overall winner: EE offer more to their broadband customers than Plusnet do.

Where to next?

While Plusnet are undoubtedly the cheaper of the two broadband providers, price isn't always the defining factor, and it's clear EE have the edge in some crucial categories.

For example, EE offer:

  • Ultrafast broadband deals while Plusnet don't (yet)
  • A higher quality home router as standard
  • More reliable speeds according to Ofcom data
  • A better (recent) customer service record
  • Discounts for EE mobile customers

So, although Plusnet's broadband packages are cheaper and suitable for those looking for no-frills broadband on a budget, our ultimate choice in this battle is EE.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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