PlusNet Fibre router
Can a single band router really serve a fibre optic broadband connection?
Review Price £39.99
Admin password unique to each router
Barely achieves advertised fibre speeds
Just 3x 10/100 usable Ethernet ports
No USB ports to network drives or printers
Basic router settings
Key Features: 802.11n 2.4GHz wireless; 3x (usable) 10/100 Ethernet ports; WPA / WPA2 & WPS security; Integrated DSL modem
What is the PlusNet Fibre router?
This is the router PlusNet supplies with its fibre optic broadband service which provides customers with speeds of up to 76 megabit (Mbps). The model is in fact a Technicolour TG582n which is also supplied by Zen Internet (along with other more expensive options) and Be Unlimited (which is folding into Sky). The products should be identical, but our sample came from PlusNet and features the company’s logo in the router’s settings hence the main review title.
Interestingly, like the controversial Sky Hub, the TG582n is a single band 802.11n 2.4GHz router. This slower wireless standard often struggles to distribute WiFi fast enough to reach fibre broadband speeds, so it has our Spidey-sense tingling.
PlusNet Fiber router – Design
Without a doubt, the TG582n is the most aged looking router we have seen in recent years. Its beige finish, prominent vents and array of flashing green lights will delight hipsters and terrify techophiles in equal measure.
On the upside, the matt white finish doesn’t collect fingerprints or dust easily and its boxy design is rugged. The TG582n is also wall mountable, though the wall mount points come at the expense of rubber feet at the front of the router so we wouldn’t advise sitting it on any particularly delicate surfaces should it get knocked.
PlusNet Fiber router – Features
Looking at the TG582n may be like stepping back in time, but the greater concern is it evokes a similar feeling when looking at the spec sheet. For starters the TG582n is merely a single band 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz router and it features just a 2×2 antenna array when dual band 3×3 arrays have been standard for some time.
In addition to passing up 5GHz WiFi, the TG582n also skips Gigabit Ethernet and just three of its four 10/100 ports can be used. This is because one has been commandeered as a WAN port (signified by red tape stuck below it) to accept Internet from PlusNet’s dedicated fibre broadband modem. As such anyone looking to run a fast local network from the TG582n – like the four port 10/100 Ethernet of the Sky Hub – would be well advised to steer clear.
The fact the TG582n also features a DSL port beside its Ethernet ports in theory adds flexibility, but in reality it simply highlights that this is a router designed for ADSL2 (up to 16Mbit) services and has been customised in an attempt to squeeze more mileage from the clock.
The better news is the TG582n does pack up to date security with WPA2 and WPS aboard and a firmware update means it is IPV6 ready. The router also provides dynamic DNS and some basic parental control which allows parents to block specific websites. That said this is an outdated method (you’ll be typing in websites until the end of time) and you’d be better off using smarter free dedicated software such as Norton Family, Microsoft Live Family Safety, KuruPira WebFilter and Qustodio, to name but a few.
Lastly the TG582n has a USB 2.0 port for sharing a printer or external storage across your local network. Strangely it is located on the side of the router, rather than the back, which is the first time we’ve seen this. USB should be a default on any modern router and it was also included on the Virgin Super Hub and BT Home Hub 4 (both of which are also dual band) but surprisingly omitted from the Sky Hub.
PlusNet Fibre router – Setup
PlusNet UIGiven you’ll have spotted the TG582n is a rather basic router you’ll be pleased to know its setup process is similarly stripped down. Connect it up and use the key printed on the bottom of the router to connect to its WiFi and you’re away.
If you do want to change some settings you won’t be surprised to learn the TG582n eschews more modern URLs from its settings and you’ll find them instead by typing 192.168.1.254 into your web browser. A nice touch is the admin password is set to the router’s serial number so each one is unique and given many households don’t change their basic router settings, avoiding the default password of ‘admin’ or ‘password’ is to be applauded.
Against this is that the router UI is archaic. Traffic management requires individually typing in device IP addresses and its hyperlinked text to indicate clickable links is a mile away from the slick, Cloud-based drag and drop interface of something like the Linksys Smart WiFi platform.
PlusNet Fibre router – Performance
So the TG582n is pretty ugly, its functionality is basic and its settings seem to come from an era before animation… all of which means its performance will be an absolutely disaster? Surprisingly, not entirely.
We put the TG582n through its paces in our residential test environment and it recorded speeds of 9.63 megabytes per second (77 megabits per second), 8.82MBps (70.6Mbps) and 2.2MBps (17.6Mbps) at two metres and 10 metres line of sight and 13 metres behind two standing walls.
This means the TG582n can – by the skin of its teeth – provide close range wireless speeds above the 76Mbps fibre broadband packages PlusNet supplies. In addition it operates above the 62.7Mbps average Ofcom claims is the average for 76Mbit fibre connections at both 2m and 10m with line of sight to the router.
These figures are also significantly better than our Sky Hub test sample achieved in identical conditions recording 5.8MBps (46.4Mbps), 5.1MBps (40.8Mbps) and 1.3MBps (10.4Mbps) at 2m, 10m and 13m respectively. It also gives the BT Home Hub 4 a run for its money as its 2.4GHz results came in at 7.61MBps (60.88Mbps), 7.45MBps (59.6Mbps) and 2.79MBps (22.32Mbps) though it cannot match the Virgin Media new Super Hub which tallied 10.1MBps (80.8Mbps), 8.5MBps (68Mbit) and 3.2MBps (25.6Mbps).
Crucially both the new Super Hub and Home Hub 4 also sport 5GHz 802.11n wireless. This saw Virgin’s router score 17.5MBps (140Mbps), 11.5MBps (92Mbps) and 4.3MBps (34.4Mbps) with the Home Hub 4 coming in at 13.5MBps (108Mbps), 13.1MBps (104.8Mbps) and 4.92MBps (39.4Mbps) in identical circumstances.
All of which shows 802.11n 5GHz wireless really should be a mandatory requirement for any fibre optic broadband router. After all we don’t buy fibre broadband services to only get the speed we pay for without walls or doors in the way.
As for USB, speeds were disappointing with the TG582n hitting just 1.42MBps (11.36Mbps) – enough to stream HD video, but this functionality will quickly drop away with distance. Another let down is TG582n only supports external storage formatted with FAT32, a format which doesn’t accept file sizes above 4GB which therefore suppers HD film options. NTFS has been part of mainstream computing since the turn of the century, so this omission is a shocker.
Should I buy the PlusNet Fibre router?
In a word, no. The TG582n is yesterday’s technology trying to scrape by and supply today’s broadband advances. The good news is it does at least supply close range wireless speeds capable of PlusNet’s 76Mbit service, but only just. Whether this makes it fit for purpose is debatable.
Happily PlusNet only charges postage and packing (£5) for the TG582n, which it values at £40. Still we’d personally put that £5 towards either the £60 D-Link DIR-645 which is the fastest single band router we have tested, or the £100 D-Link 845L which is the fastest dual band router we’ve tested.
For those looking to future proof the 802.11ac compliant Asus RT-AC66U, D-Link DIR-868L and Linksys EA6700 provide blazing dual band wireless n and with ac compliant equipment they can top 35MBps (280Mbps) at close range and over 24MBps (in excess of 190Mbps) even at 13m behind two standing walls. If you can afford it, their circa £150 RRPs are well worth the investment.
PlusNet Fibre router – Verdict
The TG582n is hopefully part of a fading trend to supply single band routers with fibre optic broadband services. Unlike the Sky Hub it can achieve its provider’s wireless speeds at close proximity, but make no mistake this is an outdated product in both design and features and we would advise all customers to seek out a dual band third party router instead.
Scores In Detail
Build Quality 6/10
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