Future Of Plusnet Under Review, Says BT Boss – Report

BT Group is reportedly assessing the future of its Plusnet division – the well-established budget friendly Internet Service Provider (ISP) for the UK carrier.

ISPreview reported on the development, citing a recent Sunday Times interview with the CEO of BT Consumer, Marc Allera.

During the Sunday Times interview, Allera revealed the future of Plusnet was under assessment, as the carrier seeks to turn its EE division into its flagship consumer brand going forward.

Plusnet review

Plusnet is a well established brand in the UK ISP sector, having been founded back in 1997 in Sheffield

It was initially a favourite ISP among IT professionals, however in 2006 Plusnet was acquired by BT.

In late 2019, long-serving Plusnet CEO Andy Baker stepped down as BT completed the integration of the former Yorkshire-based ISP into BT’s Consumer division. At the time Plusnet had 1,678 staff spread across Leeds and Sheffield, and had an annual turnover of £410m.

Despite being owned by the former UK incumbent for many years, Plusnet has managed to keep its own identity by operating at an “arm’s-length” from the carrier, and stressing its Yorkshire heritage in advertising campaigns.

For years Plusnet has touted itself as a friendly no nonsense ISP, but it should be remembered that in April this year, BT announced its intention to use its EE brand name as its principle identifier for the UK consumer market, as part of its “new chapter” in the group’s “transformation.”

BT of course acquired the UK largest mobile operator EE (formerly Everything, Everywhere) in January 2016, uniting the UK’s biggest fixed line and mobile providers.

In April 2022, Marc Allera said the BT brand would not be retired, as the “BT brand would still play an important but more focused role for Consumer customers on standalone broadband and landline services.”

Allera also noted in April that having both BT and EE in an already crowded consumer market meant the group had to have two of everything, and that made “life harder for our customers and our people – two accounts, two apps, two product roadmaps, and multiple systems. You get the picture. We need to simplify things, for everyone.”

Having Plusnet in addition to these two brands was thus an added complication, despite the fact that BT did pledge in April that its Plusnet brand would continue to serve customers with basic no-frills broadband and landline.

But now ISPreview reported, citing the Sunday Times interview, that Allera, has now said that the future of Plusnet has been placed under review.

Allera reportedly did not provide any more detail of the review but did state somewhat ominously “you’ll see some changes over time. You know our future direction.”

Rebranding exercises

It is fair to say that BT does have a reputation for its rebranding exercises.

BT itself last underwent a significant rebranding in 2017, after it agreed in 2016 to make Openreach a legally separate entity complete with its own CEO, budget, staff and brand, to appease Ofcom and ensure that the open access network division would not have to be sold off.

And the carrier has of course undergone other rebranding exercises in previous decades.

It should be remembered that the British Telecom brand was first introduced in 1980, when it became independent of the Post Office in 1981.

In 1984 it was incorporated into British Telecommunications, and in 1991 it changed its trading name to BT.

The origins (via the General Post Office or GPO) of BT can be traced all the way back to 1846 with the founding of the Electric Telegraph Company, the world’s first public telegraph company.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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