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Plusnet is sweet 16!

Plusnet is sweet 16!

Plusnet is sweet 16!

Brithday cake Cast your mind back to 1997: the Full Monty was a big box office hit; the Spice Girls were number one; Dolly the Sheep and the UK relinquishing British Rule on Hong Kong were big news. This was also the year Plusnet was born... It’s our 16 birthday! But before we go and lock ourselves in our bedrooms and pretend to do our homework, we wanted to look back at some of the key events in our history.  Cue the wobbly music, it’s time for a flashback...

1997-2000: The Early Years

In 1997 - after starting life in a family home – we needed a home.  At the time, all of our equipment was moved in the boot of an employee’s car! Soon after that the Plusnet brand was born and we began to make a name for ourselves providing dial-up internet services. Anyone remember hearing this?    

2000-2003: Helping make Britain Broadband-ier

As everyone was scoffing at the £700m price tag for the millennium dome and breathing a big sigh of relief that the millennium bug didn’t strike, Plusnet was getting ready to launch broadband. The dial- up services most of us were used to in the 90’s used different equipment that utilised lower frequencies that could be transmitted over a copper landline and that was usually occupied by the same signal used to make a telephone call. That was the reason why you couldn’t use the phone and the Internet at the same time. Broadband services on the other hand used ADSL technology, which most of us are still using improved versions of today. This uses higher and less audible frequencies which is the reason that you can use your connection and your phone at the same time. When we originally launched broadband with download speeds ranging from around 0.5mb/s, it seemed like an amazing leap from dial-up speeds.  What a world away that now feels from the fibre services we offer that are over 150 times faster. This leap into broadband was the launch pad for our early success and before we knew it we’d out-grown our office, (again).  Meanwhile, in 2003, a young, short haired, fresh-faced chap called Adam Walker, (me!)  joined the ranks after being tempted away from supporting Freeserve customers for the Dixons Stores Group.  It was a very interesting time to join the company. A lot has changed since, (no, I’m not just talking about my hair and beard!) but I’m glad to say as I enter my 10th year  is has been for better!

2004-2007: Starting to play ball with the Big Boys!

2004 was one of the most pivotal points in the company’s history as Plusnet Technologies Ltd made the move to Plusnet PLC as we floated on the AIM stock exchange and shares went on sale soon after. But what’s the point of being a big PLC without having your name out there? So we became Sheffield Wednesday FC’s kit sponsors; something we did for two seasons. Interestingly, Lee Strafford who was our CEO at the time later went on to become the club’s chairman after leaving Plusnet in 2007. As we made our foray in the big pond that is the telecoms industry, the need to expand into the widening and increasingly competitive market was needed. So in 2005, we made our first sizable acquisition buying a company called Parbin which included a number of brands that we’ve maintained ever since such as Metronet, Just The name and Pay-as-you-host.  

2007 - 2010: BT buys Plusnet, Plusnet buys Madasafish!

Over the next few years our growing notoriety was getting us noticed.  So much so, that in 2007 Plusnet was acquired by BT Retail. This move allowed the brand to operate in a much broader market and was an important step in the company’s growth between then and now. Whilst it means that we are under the wing of the wider BT Group, we have remained free to operate autonomously, staying true to the entrepreneurial spirit of old. In what was undoubtedly one of the most eventful years in Plusnet’s history, we also decided to put together one of the industry’s first dedicated business support teams. This is something that has grown from a small team into a dedicated and hard-working department in its own right. A few months later, we were able to make our biggest acquisition yet when we purchased “Brightview” this included the brand “Madasafish” which, at the time was supported by an over-seas call centre. Within a couple of years, we decided to bring all of our support back to these shores and we’re very proud to say Plusnet offers UK customer support that’s available 24/7.

2011: TV Adverts, more sponsorship and Fibre, Fibre, Fibre!

Following in the footsteps of a successful billboard campaign we went headlong into our first TV advertising campaign in 2011. Our down-to-earth, check-shirted Joe made his first appearance and has since starred in all our ads becoming the recognisable face of Plusnet. He may look cuddly but we don’t advise heckling him, (Craig Murray) at one of his stand-up shows!  Oh yeah...and can any of you remember this giant dog?   This year also saw us move back into sponsorship, this time with International Rugby League and the Gillette Four Nations. Meanwhile, we began to offer fibre products.  We were able to make this much anticipated move after completing a number of customer and staff trials and even a pigeon race. 2011 also saw us gain our first Which? recommendation. We don’t think you need to stay quiet when given such great awards so we’ll mention our awards again at the end.


In Britain’s Jubilee and Olympic year, Plusnet couldn’t help but notice the sense of pride that was sweeping the nation.  In fact, we even changed our strap line to, “We’ll do You Proud” setting out a customer manifesto in which we don’t expect people to have to compromise on quality or service in order to get a good deal.  You can have both with Plusnet! At the same time, we’d ran out of space again so moved into the biggest office let  to happen in Sheffield within the past  five years! We’re very appreciative of our shiny new home however, as our growth continues it looks like we’ll soon be looking to open a second site too – watch this space! Last year, we also made one of our most anticipated moves by launching an unlimited broadband product. Available for both ADSL and fibre connections we’re now able to bring you broadband without boundaries. Some of you have even asked us if there really are any limits or a fair usage policy for this and we’d like you all to know that there really isn’t. It’s great value broadband with 24/7 UK based support that you can enjoy without watching the clock or keeping tabs on a meter!

2013 and beyond

This year, we’ve already had a busy start. We’ve stepped in to help out the world-famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band who recently found themselves at risk of disbanding due to financial problems. We hope our donation goes a long way towards helping secure a future for the band made famous by the movie “Brassed Off”.   We’re also really excited about our headline sponsorship of the brand new Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. The event has already gained a gigantic amount of interest with all running places taken within three days of the launch and entries from as far afield as The Bahamas.   As you can see, we’ve had an interesting 16 years of existence.  The broadband market has changed significantly in this time and Plusnet along with it.  Not only have we made changes to move with the times and improve life for our customers but we’ve done so picking up a number of awards along the way; from 2004 when we received four stars in the Sunday Times Buying Guide through to 2012 when we bagged our third consecutive Which? recommendation. This year alone, we’ve picked up honours at the uSwitch and Broadband Genie awards and we don’t plan to stop there.  We’re looking forward to the challenges ahead and delivering the best products and services we can to our customers. Have you been part of Plusnet’s history?  Share your story with us here...

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