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Should I switch broadband provider to BT Home Essentials (a social tariff)?

Rising Star
Posts: 408
Thanks: 14
Fixes: 1
Registered: ‎27-07-2007

Should I switch broadband provider to BT Home Essentials (a social tariff)?

I am wondering whether to change my broadband provider and package/tariff. I am eligible for so-called "social tariffs" which are cheaper packages that are only available if you are on certain benefits or receive certain support. Plusnet don't offer these, as far as I know. While I am the only person in my house on a regular basis, I do stream a lot of video and audio, download large files (e.g. Linux ISOs), upload files for my web design hobby, I spend a lot of time online, and I have multiple devices connected and using bandwidth. So some extra speed would be beneficial.

I have looked at the "social tariffs" and other packages that are available, including from Plusnet my existing broadband provider, and have determined that my best alternative is BT's Home Essentials . But I have some questions and concerns about which I would appreciate comments and advice please.

Current package:

BT Basic - line rental

(I am eligible due to the benefits I'm on.)

£5.16 per month

(I don't use the landline phone.)

Plusnet Unlimited - broadband

Advertised "Estimated download speed" 4 Mbps-10 Mbps

Minimum guaranteed download speed 2.5 Mbps

Estimated upload speed 1 Mbps

Current Line Speed (download): 12 Mbps down (as reported on the Plusnet member centre - Broadband webpage when I am signed in)

Should be £12.74 per month

But I get monthly referral credits of £2.50

So I pay £10.24 per month

TOTAL (BT Basic + Plusnet Unlimited - referral credits): £15.40 per month

My current router - Netgear D6220 - statistics

ADSL Link Connection Speed - Downstream: 13655 kbps

ADSL Link Connection Speed - Upstream: 1267 kbps

Line attenuation - Downstream: 36.5 dB

Noise margin - Downstream: 3.4 dB

Entering my postcode at

tells me that I am 1.9 km away from the Aylestone (EMAYLES) exchange, in Market B.


I keep getting letters through my door from "City Fibre" saying that they have built a new, faster, cable broadband network in my street (as evidenced by the disruptive work in the street several months ago), and their website invites me to give them my email address so they can contact me when they are ready with the details of the different providers who will operate on their network from whom I could buy a service.

I could wait until March/April 2023 when Plusnet and BT will increase their prices due to inflation (CPI+ etc.).

Should I wait to change provider until City Fibre releases the information about which providers (and packages, presumably) will be available? If I start a 12 month contract now with BT Home Essentials (below), and then a provider on the City Fibre network offers a better package, I'd be locked in. But how likely is it that a better package will be available when this happens?

Alternative package I'm considering:

BT Home Essentials

- fibre broadband (FTTC I assume), which includes line rental I think?

(I am eligible due to the benefits I'm on.)

Advertised 36 Mbps download speed

Estimated speed range 35 to 36 Mbps (based on my postcode and address).

Stay Fast Guarantee 32 Mbps

Upload speed range 8 to 9 Mbps

12 month contract, no early exit fees

£15 per month

+ £9.99 P&P upfront - though I don't think I'd need their "BT Hub" router as I think my existing one is better?


I've been a Plusnet customer for many years (since 2002), and while they have gone downhill - particularly since being acquired by BT Retail and shifting their focus to low prices - they do still seem to have better customer service and reliability than most providers (which isn't saying much). This is based on ThinkBroadband's ISP comparison tool and anecdotal evidence from people I know (I'm informal tech support to various people) as well as what I read on the Plusnet community forums and elsewhere online. So is it worth paying 40p more per month and getting a third of the speed to stay with Plusnet? ThinkBroadband seems to show that BT's customer service isn't massively worse than Plusnet, and is still better than the other big names (again though, this isn't saying much).

My other concern is that, if I leave my current Plusnet package, I won't be able to return to it: once I leave I would lose the referral credits I currently get, and my current broadband package without landline phone is no longer available to new customers. So if I move to BT Home Essentials, and discover problems or find that they withdraw the Home Essentials package, I will end up paying more and won't be able to return to what I currently have.

Thank you for any advice and comments you might have.

Posts: 11,498
Thanks: 5,114
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: Should I switch broadband provider to BT Home Essentials (a social tariff)?

Many years ago when I was newly married I asked my new father in law for advice. After sucking on his pipe for a bit, a sure indication that he was thinking, he gave me advice I have followed since. It ran along the lines:

”Half the advice that I have ever been given was wrong, so I decided that the best thing to do was to consider all the facts and make up my own mind”.

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