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PlusNet Launches Unlimited Broadband with Limits

Posted: 17th Feb, 2009 By: MarkJ
UK ISP PlusNet has posted an unexpected update today by announcing the launch of its new Plusnet Unlimited Broadband product range, which is surprising because they have always been very vocal against abuse of unlimited terminology:

Plusnet's Peter Jackson said: "Before you start thinking we’ve lost the plot let’s take a look at where we were a couple of years ago and where we are now. The market and the economics have changed significantly since our last residential product revision, and we believe that now, at long last, we can deliver a truly unlimited product.

We know that a lot of new and existing customers are looking for broadband with no caps or ‘fair usage limits’. In an extremely competitive and maturing market (a ’switchers’ market the marketing people call it), we’ve been able to design an unlimited broadband product that is sustainable and at a realistic price for the cost-conscious.

And you know that we’re open and more transparent than most companies. So when we put ‘unlimited’ in a table of competitor products you know that we mean it. How do we intend doing that? Smart traffic management is how.
"

Traffic management, in our view, does not equal "unlimited", but that's easily representative of the difference between how consumers view such a term and how ISPs interpret it. We'll let readers decide where Plusnet's service stands, though they appear to be quite aggressive towards peak-time usage of P2P and usenet (newsgroups), at worse limiting speeds to just 128Kbps. Ouch.

So what is Plusnet actually offering? The answer appears to be three packages, one unlimited choice and two restricted services for lighter usage. Prices also vary depending on where you live (geographical tiers) and whether or not you're covered by BT's more modern 21CN platform. This has nothing to do with unbundled (LLU) lines, Plusnet are BT based.

Plusnet Value:

£5.99 per month. If you live in one of their low cost areas then you'll pay this price every month. If you live outside of one of these areas then you'll pay £5.99 a month for the first 3 months and £11.99 a month thereafter.

10GB monthly usage
Up to 8Mb download speeds
Free wireless 4-port router
Free connection
Unlimited email addresses
Broadband Firewall and spam protection
18 Month Minimum Contract

Plusnet Pro:

£19.99 per month (for everybody)
All traffic prioritised at all times
Up to 8Mbps download speeds
Static IP
Ability to turn interleaving off
15GB usage allowance (free between midnight-8am)
Free wireless router (4-port)
240 minutes of VoIP calls to make at any time.

Plusnet Unlimited:

£11.99 per month for the first three months. If you live in one of their low cost areas you'll then pay £15.99 a month every month thereafter. If you live outside of one of these areas you'll then pay £19.99 a month thereafter.

Unlimited usage
Up to 8Mb download speeds
Free wireless 4-port router
Static IP (upon request)
Free connection
Unlimited email addresses
Broadband Firewall and spam protection
18 Month Minimum Contract

So what of the traffic management and how it applies to their unlimited package? PlusNet has posted a full chart of it on their community page (here), which appears to note that online gaming is always given higher priority. Gamers will like that.

Generally speaking Plusnet appears to have taken a reasonably fair rout, which is less confusing than Virgin Media's method - weird prices notwithstanding, at least so long as you're not a heavy P2P or usenet user. Though we wouldn't mind knowing how the ISP defines Download sites, since many allow you to pay extra for faster bandwidth and restricting those could cause problems.
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