Let's talk about TalkTalk. Widely regarded as one of the UK's most economical service providers, TalkTalk is definitely not all talk when it comes to broadband.
Despite the wide variety of internet service providers in the UK, British homes commonly gravitate towards the fabled 'big four': BT, Sky, Virgin Media and our good pals at TalkTalk. The lion's share of UK broadband resides with these companies, creating a four-way monopoly that would make Uncle Pennybags proud.
Boasting four million customers nationwide, TalkTalk can undoubtedly talk the talk. Question is, can TalkTalk really walk the walk? Enough chitchat - let's roll the dice and find out.
Originally based in Leeds, TalkTalk began life in 2003 as a subsidiary of Carphone Warehouse. Since then, the company has upped sticks and moved to the hustle and bustle of London Town, branching out as its own entity in 2010.
Today (that's to say, March 2018), TalkTalk is truly a nationwide outfit and its unlimited broadband covers 96% of UK households, according to its website. With Ultra Fibre Optic broadband high on the TalkTalk to-do list - and already active in certain areas of the UK - the 'big four' company could well be a future contender for the top spot in that short list.
What's included with TalkTalk broadband?
A long-time sponsor of The X Factor on ITV, it's only fitting that TalkTalk has plenty to sing about – especially when it comes to its broadband.
Whether you're planning on streaming countless hours of HD movies or simply looking to send the odd email or two, TalkTalk has you covered with unlimited internet usage. The company also boasts its "fastest ever broadband", with the TalkTalk Fast Broadband plan offering speeds up to 17mb and its Faster Fibre option boasting a high end of 38mb.
TalkTalk is also one of the most economical internet service providers in the UK, with the website claiming its service offers "Britain's best price". Quite the claim by the TalkTalk crew, yet one that's solidly backed up by competitive pricing. With fixed prices for the duration of your contract, customers are also protected against price hikes – meaning you pay the price you agreed when you signed on the dotted line.
Contracts vary in length from 12 to 24 months, with the option of 18 months if you're torn between the two. Each package also comes with HomeSafe security and parental control options, allowing you to protect your family from inappropriate content and suspicious websites.
If you're already with another provider, TalkTalk also aims to make the switching process as pain-free as possible. If you're with BT, EE, PlusNet or Sky, the good folks at TalkTalk will even cancel your old contract and have the awkward break-up chat for you: no tears before bedtime, no plates thrown across the kitchen, no clothes strewn across the front lawn.
Does TalkTalk offer any add-ons or extras?
A typical bill covers TalkTalk broadband and phone line rental at one fixed cost for the duration of your contract. However, there's also a list of optional extras you can add to any standard package, if you're looking for something a little more comprehensive.
These options include:
The typical TalkTalk phone and broadband package includes a phone line primarily for connectivity purposes. However, if you want to use that landline for making calls, you'll likely need to add a Calls Boost. Failure to do so could see you rack up a hefty bill (although calls to other TalkTalk homes are free).
The Call Boosts themselves are separated into several categories, depending on the nature of your calls: eg international calls are available as part of the International Calling Boost packages (Saver, Extra and Max).
Meanwhile, it offers an Unlimited UK Calling Boost (no prizes for what that entails). However, a few exclusions do apply. And these calls are capped at an hour in length. So if you plan on reciting the Gettysburg Oration, you might want to take a call break somewhere in between.
Security for your devices
With British families becoming more tech-savvy than ever before, the need for online security has becoming increasingly important. TalkTalk's online security add-on allows you to protect up to eight devices, from mobiles and tablets to laptops and desktop computers.
While internet speed is usually fairly rapid with TalkTalk, fast broadband can never be too fast for those that want a lightning quick connection. Luckily for those with a need for speed, TalkTalk offer the Speed Boost add-on.
This allows you to boost your TalkTalk Fibre broadband speed up to 76mb - ideal for those that are looking to get the most out of their internet connection. Although it's worth noting that connection speeds can vary dramatically from one location to the next, even with the Boost package.
At the time of writing, TalkTalk TV allows you to access up to 80 freeview channels (including 15 in HD), on-demand content and a 7-day catch-up service. You're also given the freedom to pause, record and rewind live TV, while you will have access to rent and own the latest movies as well.
Perhaps best of all, TalkTalk TV also allows you to add or remove additional channels on a month-to-month basis, from kids' and entertainment bundles to Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. This feature can be particularly useful if there's a big sporting event on Sky Sports – such as a British Lions tour – or a themed month of great films on Sky Cinema.
According to official Ofcom reports, TalkTalk boast an 83% overall customer satisfaction rate. Meanwhile, that same report notes that call waiting times on the customer service lines are an impressive 47 seconds on average. So if you're having trouble with your TalkTalk broadband status, the helpline won't leave you hanging for long.
However, the Ofcom report also suggests that TalkTalk has one of the higher complaints figures of the top six broadband providers, with 16% of customers with reason to complain. This figure is followed by a relative 51% of satisfaction with complaint handling.
While the Ofcom report is a good unbiased indication of TalkTalk services, it's worth noting that this study was based on data gathered in 2016, so these stats could (and likely will) have altered since. In fact, TalkTalk has won a number of public choice awards since, including one for Best Broadband, TV & Home Phone in 2018.
Top tips for cheaper broadband
Regardless of which provider you have your eye on, it's wise to compare broadband providers before you settle on a final choice. GoCompare can help you get an idea of overall market price, allowing you to make an informed decision when it comes to crunch time.
TalkTalk broadband deals aren't a rare sight, so it's worth keeping an eye out for what's on offer. The company often offers perks such as no set-up fees and no usage caps, while its prices are often fiercely competitive with fellow 'big four' brethren.
Finally, remember that optional extras are just that – optional. If you're looking to shave a few quid off your bill, cutting out non-essential add-ons is a quick and easy way to do so.
- Despite mixed reviews from Ofcom, TalkTalk has won a number of gongs for its customer service. Always research thoroughly before you commit
- TalkTalk offers a fixed price for the duration of your contract, protecting you from price hikes throughout your contract
- In addition to the internet services, TalkTalk TV can also be included as part of a TalkTalk broadband bundle