Q&A: Plusnet's Neil Armstrong

Plusnet reveals how it overcame a 'horrific year' to grow an even larger customer base.

We've always done customer satisfaction surveys and the number of people who were either very satisfied or extremely satisfied with us in October 2006 was nine per cent. Last month that was 67 per cent.

I think a lot of the pain has actually helped us to get where we are now. It would have been very easy for the company to have gone under completely on any number of those occasions. But it was the hard work and dedication and skill of our staff that actually stopped that from happening.

How would you convince the sceptics that you've changed and history won' t repeat itself?

We've actually won quite a lot of customers back from Pipex in the last six months. Those are customers have seen things go wrong in 2006, had a look back, looked at the awards, spoken to our customers and they can see that things have changed considerably for the better.

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I think what we're looking to do is make sure we've got the right products and the right service and continue building that reputation.

Do you think BT acquiring you has helped with the transformation of the company and can you clarify what BT's role as your new parent will be in the upbringing and development of Plusnet?

The BT acquisition of Plusnet was hugely positive for us as it made sure that we could maintain our future position. Because of the acquisition, we're able to invest more in the network and more in the customer service and, ultimately, that's what's resulted in us coming back to this award-winning position.

We're a separate company but we're a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT. We have our own management team that has monthly meetings with BT and we obviously share our plans so we can make sure that we're complementary and not competing with each other.

Have you seen an increase in your traffic since the advent of iPlayer and have you had to engage in traffic shaping or do you think that might happen in the future?

We've seen huge increases in traffic since the iPlayer launched. We can quite often see the spikes in the network when people are watching Doctor Who, Top Gear and The Apprentice. We're having to invest in more capacity as customers use more bandwidth. But, because we've always been transparent about how we use traffic management in our network and because we charge customers for additional usage, customers downloading more is no problem for us.

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For us, YouTube drives three times more traffic than iPlayer does so iPlayer is just one of a wide variety of services driving more traffic. People saying unlimited broadband for an incredibly low price cannot possibly be [offering something that's truly] unlimited because the cost of delivering unlimited amounts of video streaming is enormous.

Without giving away too many of your secrets what can customers expect from you in the next six to 12 months?

We'd like to ensure that all of our customers are getting really good value service. We aim to keep winning awards for customer service and expect to see us aiming for that best business ISP title too.

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