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UK ISP PlusNet Quietly Swaps to a Dedicated WBMC Network Platform

Thursday, January 7th, 2016 (8:53 am) - Score 3,176

Budget ISP PlusNet has quietly begun swapping from a ‘Shared’ to ‘Dedicated’ Wholesale Broadband Managed Connect (WBMC) platform via BTWholesale, which is a logical choice given their growing customer base and should afford them more direct control over network capacity / infrastructure.

The change, which only came to light after an off-the-cuff remark on PlusNet’s Community Forum (here) and a later follow-up by Kitz (here), means that PlusNet will now effectively be responsible for purchasing (Multi Services Interconnect Links) and managing their own bandwidth / routing.

By comparison the previous / existing ‘Shared’ platform largely left BTWholesale in control of PlusNet’s bandwidth, which was also shared by other ISPs and that can sometimes limit an ISPs flexibility to adapt when congestion surfaces.

A PlusNet Support Agent told one customer:

We’re very excited to say we’re massively increasing our capacity. We’re deploying an expansion in the current broadband network which will give our customers even more opportunity to make the most of the latest technologies and next generation online services.

We are confident that the new network will deliver a better experience in terms of both reliability and performance thanks to the improved architecture. If you’re on the new network, you may see some difference in the traceroutes.”

Generally speaking any move to a WBMC Dedicated platform is usually one born out of necessity, often after having simply outgrown the WBMC Shared platform. This seems to be the most likely explanation for PlusNet’s change, since they’re quite large now and will want more control over their network.

In theory, assuming everything goes well, then customers are unlikely to notice much of a difference and provided enough investment is made then PlusNet would have more control to improve bandwidth for their customers. This may potentially show via a lessening of peak-time congestion on some lines, but equally they could get it wrong and performance might suffer (usually a short term problem).

Swapping to WBMC Dedicated can be somewhat of a learning experience for any ISP, with PlusNet needing to be cautious in order to ensure that the right amount of bandwidth is available to the right places. This may also explain why we haven’t had an official announcement yet because they probably preferred to wait until it was done.

We have hailed PlusNet for a comment and hope to update again later.

UPDATE 8th Jan 2016

Sadly PlusNet aren’t willing to add anything else to what we’ve written above, which has at least been confirmed. We did query about the time-scale for migrating to the new platform, but they declined to give a clear answer.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar wirelesspacman says:

    I always thought that PlusNet were LLU based. Assume I must be missing something! 🙂

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      No they’re owned by BT Group, so choosing LLU instead of a BT-owned solution might have created a few “issues” :).

  2. Avatar wirelesspacman says:

    I appreciate they are owned by BT Group – though also seem to remember hearing about some “issues” when BT first bought them out, along the lines of “go away, you might now own us but we will still do things our way as per the sale terms”.

    Put it another way, I really struggle to see how they could offer the broadband prices they do if they are using BT Wolesale’s (published) Bitstream prices.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I can see how an ISP with reasonable economics of scale could make those packages turn a mild profit, although the model varies depending on what discounts are on offer, any extras included with the line rental and so forth. Remember that in any 12 month period only a small portion of consumers will actually switch provider, so you also have to factor the more attractive longer term profits for a good portion of customers.

    2. Avatar SD says:

      Plusnet mentality was you own us but we do things differently. That has now very much swung the other way. Actually branded internally as “BT Sheffield”…BT Group staff use it as a progression (hence different CEO/CTO’s etc)

      BT Bought PN for their ability to merge other companies databases into theirs (ie Metronet, MAAF, Vodafone back when, John Lewis)…BT’s mandate to Plusnet now is to be the loss leader in order to keep the voice circuit as WLR.

      Plusnet isn’t targetted by BT Retail/Group on profits but on how much of a loss it makes…It’s generally all about keeping lines WLR and not go full MPF

      Ex Exployee 🙂

    3. Avatar wirelesspacman says:

      I recently was going through the Bitstream wholesale prices for a consulting project I was doing for a European telecoms regulator and my conclusion was that it was essentially impossible to even match BT Retail’s broadband prices let alone a cheapo outfit like Plusnet or TalkTalk.

      Have to admit it did not make sense to me, but I could not work out where I might have gone wrong in the way I was using the BT Wholesale pricing.

  3. Avatar Sunil Sood says:

    @admin

    ‘and a later follow-up by Kits’

    ‘kitz’ perhaps?

  4. Avatar ChrisAO says:

    Actually, it was first noticed (here)but no other information was available at the time, nobody else spotted it or shouted about it.

    On a second point,I thought I recalled a post on Plusnet’s forum fairly recently quoting from BT’s accounts where it showed Plusnet does make a profit and an increasing one!

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