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Plusnet: ISP founded in 1997 as Plusnet Technologies Ltd

Last Edit: 29/07/19

Plusnet are an Internet Service Provider that are located in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. They were founded in 1997 as Plusnet Technologies Ltd and became a part of BT Group plc in 2007. Plusnet make a point of referencing their Yorkshire heritage -- Lee Strafford, Managing Director of Plusnet, before it was acquired by BT, was also Sheffield Wednesday chairman -- with advertising campaigns that 'play' on Yorkshire's renown for plain talking honesty. Plusnet have won numerous awards for customer service -- often a gripe about Internet Service Providers in general -- such as the: uSwitch 2018 Best Provider of Customer Services Award (sixth year running); 2017 Broadband Genie Best Customer Care Survey Awards; 2015 Cable.co.uk Best for Customer Service Award; Simplifydigital Customer Choice Awards 2015; and the 2015 MoneySuperMarket Best for Customer Service Award.

Chris Brunt wearing a Sheffield Wednesday away shirt with Plusnet sponsorship.
(Pictured: Chris Brunt wearing a Sheffield Wednesday away shirt with Plusnet sponsorship)

Just as with most long standing UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Plusnet started by providing a 0800 dial-up access product, but the product was originally called Force9 rather than Plusnet. Plusnet slowly upgraded their network, so that, from 1997-1999, they had built a network that was capable of supporting 150,000-200,000 customers. Due to the success of Force9, the business split from Choice Peripherals -- which had launched Force9 -- and a new company named Plusnet Technologies Ltd was founded in late 1997. In 1998, Plusnet created an unmetered dial-up product that was named Force9 Free-Online; later to be rebranded as simple 'F9'. In 2000, Force9 was renamed to Plusnet, and Plusnet launched their unmetered Surftime dialup product. In the autumn of 2000, Plusnet launched their first broadband product: a 512 kbit/s ADSL Internet service. From 2000-2002, Plusnet switched to a new website domain -- www.plus.net -- which they still use to the present day. During this period, Plusnet also launched a "Self Install" Broadband service, which allowed their customers to setup their own service, without having to wait for a BT engineer.

Plusnet continued to expand its customer base from 2002-2007, through word-of-mouth, advertising campaigns (such as its two year sponsorship of SWFC), and by acquiring competitors (Parbin Ltd ISP named Metronet and Brightview Group ISP named Madasafish). Plusnet were acquired by BT on the 24th of January 2007, in a deal rumoured to be in the region of £67 million. Post BT, Plusnet has continued to expand its products and customer base. It is fairly typical, when ISPs are acquired by larger competitors, for them to be disbanded as a brand and company, and its customers switched to the ISP who did the purchasing. That has proved not to be the case with Plusnet, and it is probably due to Plusnet's reputation -- within the industry and general public -- for excellent customer services. BT obviously acknowledged that fact, and in 2010 it resulted in the nationwide 'Joe's Good Honest Broadband from Yorkshire’ advertising campaign. This was updated with the 'Joe's We'll do you proud' advertising campaign in 2012.

Present day, Plusnet are one of the UK's largest Internet Service Providers, and typically provide Internet service packages that are priced slightly below those of BT. Most UK Internet Service Providers use BT Openreach's Fibre Network, and that currently includes Plusnet. That means that most Internet Service Providers are restricted by what BT Openreach's network can provide: which is currently a top average speed of 67Mbps.