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New isp time, is Zen really worth paying £120/yr more for over plusnet?

mcbrucer

Member
Hello everybody - it’s my first post here and it’s that time of year (or year and a half) again..!

I’m currently with Vodafone on the up-to 75 super fast 2 plan for £24 /month.
To be fair, aside from the nowhere-near-what’s-promised speed and the couple of service issues I’ve had with them where my kit just kept on disconnecting, it been working reasonably well for the past 5 or 6 months.

Last time I had problems though, their support people drove me up the wall with the constant daft questions and trying to blame my equipment (I use my own vdsl modem with a vpn router). In the end (after about a month) it all just started working again. Anyway, this last experience made me think i’d spend some time finding a good service next time and stay away from whichever offered the best deal.

So, I understand that Zen are very well regarded - In fact I use them myself at work for some backup FTTC - and they’re offering up-to 62 for £38.99 /month. Sounds great. Although Plusnet who seem to be the best of mass market bunch, offer a similar service for £27.99 /month. That’s £132 / year cheaper and despite my new resolve - it’s a decent wedge of cash to be hanging on to.

So, I’d appreciate your thoughts on if it’s worth paying £132/year for Zen over Plusnet.

As I mentioned, I like to use my own equipment (Draytek Vigor 130 & Linksys WRT1900ACS running VPN firmware and a separate Tenda WiFi solution).

We do a fair bit of streaming audio and video and I have multiple teenagers in the house playing xbox, Netflix and other online services. If there’s any kind of service disruption, I’ll have someone moaning and grunting at me in seconds flat..!

Appreciate your thoughts and opinions!

Thanks in advance.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Don't forget here that Zen is giving a flat non-discount price and a Lifetime Guarantee against price rises, while Plusnet's price is a discounted one for the initial contract term and then it rises to £39.98. So your decision may partly depend upon whether or not you intend to stay with the ISP for longer than a year or so. Like most big ISPs Plusnet will also increase their base pricing once a year (usually by around 5%).

On top of that there are other differences to consider, such as Zen's support for IPv6, Static IP addresses and its advanced AVM 7530 router. In terms of speeds though, that's always a difficult one to answer since the underlying FTTC network is the same, although capacity and network routing/peering does vary between ISPs and locations.

If your current speeds are only limited by the physical Openreach network then Zen probably won't do any better, but if the problem is more with Vodafone having a fairly congested network then you might get something better.
 

mcbrucer

Member
Thanks Mark - good point, hadn’t considered that.

Regarding the 2 price points / speed offerings. I don’t fully understand these. If I’m getting 40-something on the upper band offer with voda, am I more likely to get the full 36 Mb on the lower band offer from anyone reselling openreach or is that not how it works?
 

flilot

Casual Member
If I’m getting 40-something on the upper band offer with voda, am I more likely to get the full 36 Mb on the lower band offer from anyone reselling openreach or is that not how it works?
If you're getting 40 now and switch to a different provider you'll get the same speed (unless theres some physical problem with your line in the interim). So if you switched to a provider capping their speed to 36Mb on one of their offerings you'd get that speed.

By the way, the two prices you mention include line rental. Do you need that too, as if your line is already with BT you don't have to change line rental over to your chosen ISP. This further reduces the costs (down to £28.99 month for Zen with no price rise guarantee and down to £22.49/month for Plusnet for the first 12 months and £23.49 thereafter).
 

alexatkin

Member
I have both a Zen and Plusnet line, they seem pretty comparable. In fact I load balance between the two so have no clue which I'm using at any given time.

I do have some concerns with Plusnet however:

1. They are part of the IWF and have been known to block entire domains instead of specific URLs. This can't happen with Zen as they have no filtering at all on their network. (though no doubt if they got big enough they would be forced to do so)

2. They seem to still have a record of my old account with them from decades ago. I worked for them back then and they kept all your account details in the clear. The fact they still ask for letters from your password when you call customer services suggests they may very well still do this, they clearly must do for your password. This is a big security no no and would be a complete disaster should they have a data breach.
 

walkerx

Regular Member
I switched to Zen in March from Sky mainly due to the price increases and IPv6 never fully worked on Sky. I was already on the Sky Fibre Pro package costing £38.99 but they wanted to increase the fee or drop me to a lower specced package to keep it below £38.99 but then prone to the yearly mid-contract price rises.

I know pay Zen £38.99 and get the same speeds, but I also have static ipv4 and ipv6 addressing and no price rises while I stay on the package.

Since moving I've been extremely happy, only had a couple of downtimes but that has been once to maintenance, once to power outage at home and recently the fibre connection had been cut.

Zen also do a good app for your mobile, so you can see billing, request a line test, see daily and monthly usage, get service alerts
 

fat jez

Casual Member
I’m a great believer that you get what you pay for. I’ve been with Zen for many years and am very happy. I’ve also been in telecoms and IT for over 20 years, but Zen’s technical support know more than me. You won’t find them reading from a script and Openreach generally listen when Zen log a fault.

I highly recommend them.
 

Evil Harry

Casual Member
"If you're getting 40 now and switch to a different provider you'll get the same speed (unless theres some physical problem with your line in the interim). So if you switched to a provider capping their speed to 36Mb on one of their offerings you'd get that speed."

Just throwing in my two cents on this one. I was on a BT Infinity product for years. I was the first install on my cabinet and received 76Mbps intially but saw this drop down to around 50Mbps. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth with BT's support, I moved to Plus and happened to mention the slower speed to their techie. He got Openreach out and they found I was connected to a faulty line card.

I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes, it's worth the move to get better support. Ironically in this case, it was Plusnet who came through for me.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
From how I read your post, you are OK with the speeds, but not with the service when things go wrong.

This is where the people like Zen (and Aquiss et al), are worth the extra.

My parents have Plusnet, and although the connection has been reliable, they capped the connection speeds for years - denying all the time that it was their fault; only after I started making complaints on public forums like ISPR did they fix it - and my parents line went from sub 2Mbps to 6.2Mbps (pretty good for their cabinet).

In contrast, I causally mention on Twitter that my line had gone down for a couple of minutes at exactly the same time, 2 nights in a row, and Aquiss did a series of line tests and got back to me within 5 minutes, stating that Open Reach had being resetting the whole cabinet for some reason.

Another example, from about 3 years ago, a storm caused a lot of local infrastructure damage, Aquiss had OR out to repair my line within 48 hours; my neighbours on TalkTalk had to wait 2 weeks before TT would even pass it up the line from 1st level hell desk.
 

walkerx

Regular Member
I remember when I was with BT Infinity, constantly getting around 69-75Mbps then a fault in the cabinet after a storm caused my speeds to drop below 50Mbps while still syncing at 80Mbps, BT wanted me to wait a month before they would look at it, so I left and went with Sky who resolved the issues within 24 hours as the dslam just needed resetting.

After that and their attitude towards the fault I don't think I would use BT again for my service.
 
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