TalkTalk or Plusnet broadband: which is best?

samantha smith
By Samantha Smith

talktalk vs plusnet

TALKTALK and Plusnet are both providers of cheap broadband with similar price points, so who offers the better broadband service?

We reveal who is best in this guide.

Both TalkTalk and Plusnet offer a choice of broadband speeds from up to 17Mb as well as fibre up to 38Mb and 76Mb deals - and all three deals are comparatively similar in price.

They also both offer a similar Youview TV service, although Plusnet is definitely the better choice for sports fans offering access to BT Sport at a much cheaper price.

And as we'll look at in more depth, Plusnet also beats TalkTalk for offering better customer service and faster broadband speeds.

At a glance

TalkTalk Plusnet
Price From £19.95/mth From £19.99/mth
Basic broadband Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
Fibre broadband Up to 38Mb and 76Mb
Unlimited
Up to 38Mb and 76Mb
Unlimited
Inclusive calls
Anytime UK calls £7.50/mth
Includes UK mobiles
£8/mth
Includes UK mobiles
Youview TV
Minimum term 12-months
18-months for fibre
12-months
30-day option

Special offers

Winner: Plusnet, but keep an eye out as offers do change.

Plusnet and TalkTalk both frequently run special offers for new customers - which is best usually depends on the offers running at the time.

For now, Plusnet has the better offer with £50 cashback and money off their up to 17Mb unlimited broadband.

TalkTalk are offering a similar discount but without the cashback.

Plusnet Broadband Offers

Unlimited broadband from £18.99/mth for 18 months plus £50 cashback

Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
21 November 2017.
No activation fee. 12 month minimum term. Costs may vary depending on location.

TalkTalk Broadband Offers

Introductory offer: Get TalkTalk Fast broadband for just £19.95/mth.

Price includes line rental. 12 month minimum term applies. No set-up fee.

Basic broadband deals

TalkTalk and Plusnet both offer a basic broadband deal with up to 17Mb speeds and unlimited usage:

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
plusnet Unlimited + Line Only Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months Free £18.99
for 12 mths,
then £27.98
talktalk Fast Broadband Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months Free £19.95
for 12 mths,
then £25.50

Compare more cheap broadband deals.

Fibre broadband deals

Both providers also offer two similar fibre broadband deals, with a choice of up to 38Mb and up to 76Mb speeds, both with an unlimited download limit:

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
plusnet Unlimited Fibre + Line Only Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
12 months Free £22.99
for 18 mths,
then £32.98
plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra + Line Only Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
12 months £25 £29.99
for 18 mths,
then £37.98
talktalk Faster Fibre Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
18 months Free £27.50
talktalk Faster Fibre (up to 76Mb) Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
18 months Free £30
for 18 mths,
then £32.50

Compare more fibre broadband deals.

Price

Winner: Plusnet, but expect this to change as offers vary.

As shown in the tables above, both Plusnet and TalkTalk are offering very similar broadband deals for prices with only pennies between them.

Both providers are running introductory discounts for new customers, and while TalkTalk is marginally cheaper than Plusnet, their fibre deals require customers to sign for at least 18-months.

In addition, at the time of writing, Plusnet are also offering £50 cashback on their up to 17Mb deal, making the package much cheaper than TalkTalk overall.

More on price

Contracts: TalkTalk

TalkTalk offer a choice of three contact lengths on their broadband deals: 12 months; 18 months and 24 months.

While you wouldn't be blamed for thinking signing up for a longer period would offer better value, we'd urge caution here.

TalkTalk advertise these contracts as being fixed price, and currently charge more per month on the longer-term deals.

While we expect they're not being heavily promoted, this isn't good value for money at all, as not only can customers switch sooner on shorter deals but also regulation allows customers to switch within contract without charge if a provider puts the price up.

Contracts: Plusnet

Plusnet don't offer this same confusion of multiple contract lengths, but they do offer rolling contract options instead, which we think is far more useful.

Customers who don't want to be tied into a minimum term can opt for a 30-day contract instead - it costs a little more per month and there are setup fees, but customers can cancel when they need to without cost.

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
plusnet Unlimited + Line Only (30 day contract) Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
1 month £50 £23.99
for 12 mths,
then £31.48

Home phone prices

Neither TalkTalk nor Plusnet include any calls in their basic line rental.

TalkTalk only offer an Anytime call plan add-on, while Plusnet offer customers the choice to add Evening & Weekend calls or Anytime calls.

Package Included calls Monthly price
plusnet Evening & Weekend UK + mobile calls UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, and UK mobiles, Monday to Friday 7pm to 7am, and all weekend. £4
plusnet Anytime UK + mobile calls UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, and UK mobiles, at any time. £8
talktalk Unlimited UK calls UK landlines beginning 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 and UK mobiles, at any time. £7.50

Plusnet also allow their customers to take line rental elsewhere, but note that it is still required from somewhere so a typical fee of £18.99 should be added to the prices below for a realistic idea of total cost.

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
plusnet Unlimited Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months £35 £13.49
plusnet Unlimited Fibre Up to 38Mb
Unlimited
12 months £50 £17.49
plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
12 months £50 £22.49

Pay upfront

Plusnet offer customers the change to pay for line rental a year in advance. Doing so brings the cost down, saving customers £18 a year, or the equivalent of a month's free line rental.

TalkTalk don't offer customers this option.

Standard line rental Pay upfront Effective monthly cost Saving over a year
Plusnet £17.99 £185.88 £15.49 £18

Geographical pricing

One word of warning against Plusnet here: they use geographical based pricing.

That means not everyone will be able to access Plusnet's lowest prices, as these are only offered to customers living near the most competitive exchanges.

People served by a Market A exchange - roughly 10% of the country - will find they have to pay around £7.50 per month more for the service.

Those affected, who can find out here, could consider John Lewis Broadband - a resold version of Plusnet but without any differences in price between areas.

On the other hand, TalkTalk operate over what's called a local loop unbundled network, which is separate to the BT network used by Plusnet. TalkTalk's LLU service is not available quite as widely as BT/Plusnet - and so those on a Market A exchange may not be able to access TalkTalk broadband in any case.

To check which prices are likely to apply use the postcode checker tool on our Plusnet deals and TalkTalk deals pages.

Broadband speeds

Winner: Plusnet, for offering faster real world speeds.

Both Plusnet and TalkTalk offer speeds of up to 17Mb, up to 38Mb fibre and up to 76Mb fibre connections.

According to the most recent data published by Ofcom on average broadband speeds though, Plusnet is outperforming TalkTalk across all of their packages, offering a faster broadband service.

Ofcom average speeds, published April 2017
Advertised speed Over 24hrs Peak time
(8-10pm weekdays)
TalkTalk Up to 17Mb 8.6Mb to 10Mb 8.6Mb to 9.9Mb
Plusnet Up to 17Mb 9.6Mb to 11.4Mb 9.5Mb to 11.3Mb
TalkTalk Up to 38Mb 30.8Mb to 32.8Mb 30.63Mb to 32.6Mb
Plusnet Up to 38Mb 31Mb to 33.5Mb 30.1Mb to 32.7Mb
TalkTalk Up to 76Mb* 51.6Mb to 56.7Mb 51.2Mb to 56.3Mb
Plusnet Up to 76Mb 54.6Mb to 57.7Mb 53.9Mb to 57Mb

SOURCE: Ofcom, UK Home Broadband Performance, April 2017.

More on speeds

Advertised broadband speeds are the highest speed available to at least 10% of customers. Ofcom's speed data on the other hand gives us a better indication of how well a provider is performing for the majority of customers.

Choose has also run its own tests on both TalkTalk and Plusnet broadband from the same location - and while a one person test isn't going to prove particularly scientific - it did at least match up with Ofcom's findings.

What we did find was the speed readings we gathered from Plusnet where much more volatile, revealing that, to our particular household at least, TalkTalk offered a much more stable service.

Where the line starts to leap up and down, about a third of the way along, is where the broadband service being tested switched from TalkTalk to Plusnet.

TalkTalk speed test results

SOURCE: Choose, speed test results carried out April 2015, speed test by Ookla.com.

Youview TV

Winner: Plusnet, who offer more premium channels as standard and much cheaper prices for BT Sport.

Both TalkTalk and Plusnet offer additional content alongside the Youview TV platform for their broadband customers.

Plusnet TV is only available to their fibre broadband customers, whereas all TalkTalk broadband customers can add TV.

However, Plusnet are arguably offering a better service; with more premium channels included as standard and a better set top box on their plus package.

Plusnet TV is cheapest for anyone wanting to watch BT Sports; Plusnet customers can watch in HD; and both offer access to Netflix.

TalkTalk offers access to Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, which Plusnet does not. Although Plusnet customers can view Sky content through Now TV and the Sky Store.

For more on the differences between Plusnet and TalkTalk Youview TV.

Package Record and store programmes? Premium channels Upfront price Additional cost per month
talktalk TV £25 £0
talktalk TV Plus Up to 180 hours SD 6 Sky channels £25 £5
plusnet Youview 20 £6.99 £5
plusnet Youview+ Up to 300 hours SD 20 £57.99 £5

Customer service

Winner: Plusnet, but it's a close call.

Plusnet sell themselves on being a Yorkshire based provider, and call centres are indeed based in Yorkshire. That's unlike TalkTalk who use overseas call centres.

Plusnet typically rank well in customer satisfaction surveys, but in Ofcom's latest customer service report it was revealed Plusnet customers suffered the longest call waiting times of over 7 minutes on average.

TalkTalk gained a bad reputation for customer service when the provider took on a large number of customers too quickly in 2009, and while they did eventually recover, again experienced problems from data breaches in 2015.

But Ofcom's latest report showed TalkTalk were the quickest provider to answer the phone, with their customers only having to wait an average of 47 seconds to speak to someone.

Although TalkTalk's customers spoke to someone sooner, they also reported the highest dissatisfaction with how any complaints were handled.

Customer service metrics

TalkTalk Plusnet
Complaints to Ofcom
per 100,000 subscribers
98 113
Customers with reason to complain 16% 8%
Average call wait time for support 47 seconds 7 minutes, 27 seconds
Customers who hang up while waiting 4% 21%
Satisfaction with complaints handling 51% No data

SOURCE: Ofcom, Service quality of telecoms providers revealed, April 2017.

More on customer service

After three data breaches in under 12 months, TalkTalk saw more than 100,000 customers leave - and of those who didn't leave, many complained instead about how they were treated and how long it took to receive an apology.

TalkTalk are the only provider who've reported a decline in overall customers against the other three major providers: BT, Virgin and Sky.

Ofcom's report does show some positive signs that TalkTalk are beginning to turn things around again. As well as having the shortest call wait times, TalkTalk also came in third out of six for complaints received - indeed outperforming Plusnet.

For more on which broadband provider offers the best customer service.

Verdict: Who wins out of TalkTalk vs Plusnet?

How to Signup

In terms of price, TalkTalk and Plusnet make it difficult to choose a winner and it largely comes down to whichever provider is offering the better joining incentive at the time.

Plusnet score the most points for offering a faster real world broadband service, and while their customer support could see improvements, TalkTalk's data breaches have left the provider with a lot to prove again.

Overall winner: Plusnet.

For more read our in-depth reviews to Plusnet here and for TalkTalk here.


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