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Performance Woes Hamper PlusNet Users as New Network Takes Blame

Wednesday, Sep 7th, 2016 (7:47 am) - Score 3,773

Some of Plusnet’s broadband subscribers appear to be suffering from a mix of problems with packet loss, high latency and slow connectivity, which many are linking back to the ISP’s on-going efforts to migrate from a ‘Shared’ to ‘Dedicated’ Wholesale Broadband Managed Connect (WBMC) network.

The move to adopt a Dedicated WBMC platform, which was confirmed earlier this year after some prodding (here), is necessary because the ISP has largely outgrown their old ‘Shared’ platform from BTWholesale and the new one will give them more control to manage their own bandwidth / routing etc.

At the time one of Plusnet’s support agents said, “[We’re] confident that the new network will deliver a better experience in terms of both reliability and performance thanks to the improved architecture.” However Plusnet has repeatedly declined to give a clear time-scale for the migration, although some subscribers have recently been moved.

The upgrade is complex and it can be difficult for ISPs to get the balance right, thus we haven’t been surprised to note a spike in complaints about service performance over the past few months, which often seems to have occurred as customers are gradually being migrated between the “old” and “new network“.

Many, but by no means all, of these gripes are now being linked back to the aforementioned switch by customers. A fair few related threads can be found on Plusnet’s Community Forum (examples here and here) and we’ve pasted some examples below. The biggest issue is connected to high latency / packet loss, especially at peak times.

Plusnet User tommygunyeah said:

“So as of a few weeks ago I have started noticing a few issues on my internet. As of late to the TeamSpeak server I use I am getting a regular packet loss of around 5-10% loss on incoming and 10-20% on out going packets. I think this has been affecting other services as lately I cannot watch a stream on Twitch.tv for more than about 30 seconds without it buffering, even at a low quality setting which is no right at all.”

Plusnet User russellede said:

“Clearly, there is a major issue with the infrastructure in this new network that makes it virtually unusable, and it clearly cannot handle the traffic levels it is getting during peak hours. Certainly, gaming or any other latency dependent activity is out of the question now on peak hours.”

Plusnet User davenos said:

“My previous post saying it seemed sorted for me was premature, today I’m suffering 100% packet loss to twitch.tv, xbox live is unusable with pings of 300ms+ to the battlefield servers and in struggling to download anything.

Now all the above are none existent on my BT business connection(also fibre) and my Virgin Media connection using the same devices, my pings remain low and zero packet loss.

Some of us are close to 2 months of suffering this issue which is completely unacceptable.”

Some subscribers have temporarily been able to get around the problem by paying a small fee to add a Static IP address to their package, which has effectively shifted them back on to the old network. Meanwhile others claim to have been suffering from the above problems for, in some cases, approaching almost two months.

Customers can check if they’re on the new network by running a tracert on their Internet connection or going here http://users.plus.net/@gateway_custom?debug-ip=yes and looking to see if the gateway has the letters IR in it (e.g. psb-ir01.plus.net).

A Plusnet Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We are aware that a very small number of our customers may be experiencing packet loss problems with their service. We understand how frustrating this can be and are working hard to resolve the issue.”

Major network upgrades rarely go without fault and any problems that do occur will often affect subscribers sporadically. The challenge for Plusnet, as with all ISPs, is to identify and tackle these issues as quickly as possible when they arise and ideally before customers lose hope of a resolution.

On the other hand many or at least some of the reported problems may not be directly related to the new network (other big ISPs suffer similar issues on parts of their network all the time), although the lack of information from Plusnet is likely to be feeding a deep suspicion that the new network is to blame when in fact that might not always be the case.

Unfortunately every time we ask Plusnet for details, or a time-scale for the completion of their network migration, the channels of communication tend to go silent.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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