Budget internet and phone provider PlusNet looks set to launch an affordable new range of broadband and superfast fibre (FTTC) packages from Wednesday next week (19th December 2012) that will offer an unlimited usage allowance instead of their usual data caps. The cheapest deal is expected to cost from just £4.99 a month.
At present PlusNet’s standard copper based broadband (16Mbps) packages start from £6.49 a month for a 10GB usage allowance (unlimited overnight usage), with a free wireless router, and go up to £11.49 if you want 60GB. Meanwhile their superfast (38Mbps) Fibre Broadband services, which use FTTC technology, start from £16.49 a month for a 40GB allowance and go up to £19.99 for 250GB and speeds of up to 76Mbps. Free calls and other options are often included with certain bundles.
According to The Guardian, the new “unlimited” packages will start at £4.99 per month for the first 12 months of service (£9.99 thereafter) and must come bundled with a home phone service. The old 10GB capped package will still remain but its price is expected to be slashed to £5.99 a month, although existing customers can add “unlimited” usage to the service by paying £9.99 a month.
Elsewhere the new Plusnet Unlimited Fibre deal will offer speeds of up to 76Mbps from just £9.99 a month for the first six months (£19.99 thereafter) when bundled with the ISPs home phone service. The old 40GB fibre package will still remain but is set to be priced from just £7.99 a month for the first six months of service (£15.99 thereafter).
Jamie Ford, Plusnet’s CEO, said:
“Customers’ internet habits have changed considerably over the past 12 months. People are using more bandwidth and services that demand faster speeds. But at the same time we know some people still want a broadband supply for limited day-to-day use at the best price possible. We believe our new Essentials and Unlimited products meet either demand.”
It should be said that the precise package details have yet to be confirmed and PlusNet’s PR team probably won’t be back in the office to clarify until Monday. It’s also not the first time that PlusNet has had an “unlimited” package, although in the past such services have been abandoned because they’ve been too expensive to support on BTWholesale’s platform.
Cheaper unbundled (LLU) ISPs, such as the packages from Sky Broadband and TalkTalk, don’t have the same problem. Indeed TalkTalk in particular is now close to reaching 95% of the UK with its LLU platform, which is giving BT some real competition in around 10% of the country where the operator hasn’t even been able to deploy ADSL2+ (up to 24Mbps) services yet (BT has around 85% coverage). PlusNet is no doubt mindful of this threat.
One big unknown here is the pricing for Ofcom’s Market 1 areas (i.e. the last 10% of the UK’s most rural towns and villages), where there is less competition between ISPs and thus the service is more expensive to deliver. Most BT based ISPs adopt a singular pricing strategy, although PlusNet has always charged considerably more for those stuck in Market 1 locations (e.g. the £6.49 “value” service rises to a whopping £12.99 after the first three months of service).
NOTE: The Home Phone service requires a Line Rental payment of £13.99 a month or £10.49 monthly equivalent if you pay 12 months in advance.
UPDATE 17th December 2012
We’re still waiting for the final details on Wednesday but PlusNet has informed that those living in Market 1 areas and taking the standard broadband Essentials package pay £12.99 on the 12 month contract or £15.49 with the monthly option, which is well above the headline price for everybody else.
Similarly PlusNet will still impose Traffic Prioritisation. This is intended to protect the providers “quality of service” by ensuring that traffic to VoIP (e.g. Skype), gaming and video streaming is protected and given greater priority (i.e. P2P and Usenet file downloads may suffer from slower speeds).
In other words if you’re streaming BBC iPlayer videos at the same time as conducting a P2P download then iPlayer will get most of your speed and P2P will be slowed. However those with Fibre connections probably won’t have to worry about this too much as most should have plenty of speed to spare.