TalkTalk: Wikis

  

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TalkTalk Telecom Limited
Type Limited
Founded 2003
Headquarters London, England, UK
Key people Charles Dunstone, CEO
Industry Telecommunications
Products Home and Broadband Internet access
Revenue £347 million
Parent Carphone Warehouse
Website www.talktalk.co.uk

www.talktalkmembers.com www.talktalk-labs.com twitter.com/talktalktips www.aolbroadband.co.uk

www.tiscali.co.uk

TalkTalk is a home phone and broadband business, and is part of The Carphone Warehouse plc. It was launched in 2003 with Charles Dunstone as CEO.[1]

Originally solely a fixed landline provider, TalkTalk now operates and sells home phone and broadband packages to UK customers. Like some other UK broadband providers on the ADSL network, TalkTalk has invested in its own exchange infrastructure, known as Local Loop Unbundling (LLU), with 79%[2] of its customers base unbundled as of July 2009.

The company received negative press in 2006 and 2007 for offering a broadband product it was unable to supply in a timely fashion to many customers following its "broadband for free" campaign.

TalkTalk was the sponsor of the UK's biggest talent show The X Factor for Series 6,[3] which started on 22 August 2009.[4]

Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk intend to split by March 2010 and be separately listed on the London Stock Exchange.[5]

Contents

History

TalkTalk launched in February 2003 after the acquisition of Opal Telecom in November 2002. The acquisition meant The Carphone Warehouse now had its own switching network providing access to BT Wholesale's landline network for the first time. An initial trial was conducted in the Manchester region. Three months later, TalkTalk was launched with the slogan "landline calls for less", and a guarantee that calls would be cheaper than with their perceived chief competitor, British Telecom.

Several high profile TV advertising campaigns commenced in 2003, initially under the first TalkTalk brand utilising the former public face of BT, Maureen Lipman. It appeared that TalkTalk was going head to head with BT with the slogan "It's good to Talk, but it's better to TalkTalk", mocking BT's "It's good to Talk" slogan. In the following years TalkTalk invested heavily in TV advertising and has won several awards for creativity. TalkTalk Broadband was subsequently launched in November 2004.[6] The free broadband offer was later launched in April 2006.[7] The company was criticised several times for making exaggerated claims such as "Free Broadband Forever" which later turned out to be misleading.[8] The company purchased E2Save for £4.7m in February 2004, followed by Xtra of Spain for £11.6m.[9]

One Stop Phone Shop was purchased for £15m in March 2005[10]

The acquisitions of Tele2 for £11.5m[10] and One.Tel for £169.6m[10] culminated in TalkTalk now having 2.5m customers.

The Carphone Warehouse purchased the UK ISP business of AOL in October 2006 for £370m and renamed it AOL Broadband.[11]

In June 2009 a deal to purchase the UK division of Tiscali was approved by the European Union Competition Commission.[12] The acquisition was completed on 6 July 2009.[13] Carphone Warehouse announced that TalkTalk would be spun out from the group as a separate listed company, with the Tiscali, AOL Broadband and TalkTalk brands all coming together as one brand eventually.[14][15][16]

According to the January 2009 financial announcement by Carphone Warehouse plc, TalkTalk had 2.7 million customers.[17] The company purchased Tiscali UK in June 2009 for £236m.[18] The Carphone Warehouse's full-year earnings statement in November 2009 revealed the TalkTalk customer base had risen to 4.12 million.[19]

Services

Broadband and telephone

The company has operated broadband and landline telephone services since it first launched. Following the purchase of the UK ISP division of AOL, broadband services under the AOL Broadband brand are also provided, with some AOL content partnerships available for TalkTalk customers.

Tiscali UK provided telephone and broadband services both bundled and separate until being rebranded on 7 January 2010. On this day the company closed to new business.[20] TalkTalk announced in December 2009 that customers with just broadband services would be encouraged to subscribe to a telephone service or pay an extra £5 monthly charge.[21] The Tiscali portal content moved to the TalkTalk website, while the company name remained Tiscali UK Limited trading as TalkTalk.[22]

Television

TalkTalk inherited the IPTV service from Tiscali and renamed it TalkTalk TV in January 2010. The service had originally launched in London as Homechoice in 2001.

Controversy

Sponsorship

In 2004, TalkTalk won the sponsorship rights to Big Brother from the UK mobile firm O2. Sponsorship continued until the race controversy of Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 after which the company retracted its sponsorship agreement.[23]

Telecom sales

In 2005 TalkTalk was accused of using the practice of telephone slamming (changing consumer's residential phone line over to a new provider without their consent).[24] Some cases were linked to instances of mis-selling by sales people on the doorstep or by telephone; other consumers reported that their personal data had been misused after buying mobile telephones from Carphone Warehouse.[25] These sales techniques exploited a loophole in British law which allowed consumers to change telecom service providers more easily.

"Free" broadband

In 2006 TalkTalk launched a promotion offering free broadband. The promotion attracted criticism when demand outstripped supply and the network systems were unable to cope with the consumer response.

April 2006

On 11 April 2006, TalkTalk started offering a free broadband service (up to 8 Mbit/s with a 40 GB monthly usage limit) for life to all subscribers to their Talk3 International telephone tariff at £20.99/month. Conditions included signing up to a minimum 18 month contract and a £29.99 connection fee.[7]

July 2006

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) challenged TalkTalk on their free broadband offer.[26] Soon after this challenge, TalkTalk began to offer free broadband on their cheaper Talk3 tariff. This allowed people to have unlimited telephone calls, broadband and line rental for £19.99 a month. This offer was available to new and existing customers, though broadband was only free for customers connected to a Local loop unbundling (LLU) exchange. As of July 2006, TalkTalk claimed that free broadband was available to 70% of the UK population. They hope that this figure will increase as British Telecom allow the unbundling of their remaining exchanges. Customers not on an unbundled exchange are charged a monthly fee for broadband access. Many users of TalkTalk Broadband do not experience the full 8 Mbit/s speed, as this depends on the extent to which the user's local exchange has been unbundled, and (as with all ADSL services) the distance from the exchange. Users not on unbundled exchanges get a fixed speed service at 0.5, 1 or 2M and not "up to 8M".

Some experts predicted this might provoke a UK broadband price war.[27] Shortly following this report, Orange began to offer free broadband to users of their monthly mobile phone contracts, and Sky also began offering a variety of free or very cheap broadband packages to their subscribers.

Due to the unexpectedly high number of customers who signed up to the free broadband service, the launch suffered complaints with regard to a long waiting list to join the broadband programme and many difficulties in contacting TalkTalk customer services. In a Sunday Times interview, Charles Dunstone admitted that Carphone's TalkTalk business was "struggling to cope" with the more than 400,000 customers who signed up for high-speed internet access since the service launched in April. He also compared TalkTalk Broadband to "a little baby who’s waking up every two hours and is disturbing the family and making our lives a nightmare."[28]

September 2006

TalkTalk allowed customers to escape the binding 18-month contract for broadband "if it had failed to keep its service commitments in their case".[29]

October 2006

On the BBC programme Watchdog (3 October 2006), Charles Dunstone stated "I got it wrong. I didn't realise that free broadband was going to have the effect on people it has."[30]

November 2006

To the Mail on Sunday Charles Dunstone stated "In about 20% of customers there is some kind of problem with the phone exchange, the line, or something else. There is no point trying to pretend everything is all right. Our business exploded and we compressed the problems everyone in the industry has had into a few months. It has given customers nightmares and I just can't ignore complaints."[31][32]

A customer satisfaction poll by uSwitch places TalkTalk and Orange joint bottom for customer satisfaction.[33]

January 2007

The published figures show that by the third quarter of 2006, 540,000 users had been subscribed to TalkTalk broadband of which 132,000 were (TalkTalk) LLU lines.[34] In the third quarter trading update, the published figure was 413,000 customers unbundled, including 281,000 AOL Broadband customers.[35]

Roger Taylor (CFO) reported that the number of TalkTalk Broadband customers was lower than expected, but was forecasting 700,000 customers on unbundled lines (LLU) by March 2007.[34]

In response to the sign up rate halving, The Carphone Warehouse has introduced a free 30 day trial for broadband customers. Charles Dunstone told staff this week that the free trial was "an attempt to give people the confidence to try it, despite what they might have heard". Customers will be able to cancel the contract within 30 days without incurring a penalty.[36]

Data pimping

In early 2008 it was announced that Talk Talk had entered into an agreement (along with BT and Virgin Media) with the former spyware company Phorm (responsible under their 121Media guise for the Apropos rootkit)[37][38] to intercept and analyse their users' click-stream data, and sell the anonymised aggregate information as part of Phorm's OIX advertising service.[39][40] The practice, which has become known as "data pimping", came under intense fire from various internet communities and other interested-parties who believe that the interception of data is illegal under UK law (RIPA).[41][42][43][44] At the time, TalkTalk confirmed that the new Phorm system, when implemented, would be a strictly opt-in service.[45] In July 2009, Charles Dunstone, CEO of TalkTalk Group announced that TalkTalk had withdrawn plans to introduce Phorm, along with a similar announcement from BT in the same week.[46]

2007 Tiscali UK email outage

In May 2007, spammers managed to send volumes of spam email from Tiscali's free webmail service.[47] This resulted in the blacklisting of emails sent to ISPs from Tiscali, due to the large number of spam being sent from the webmail addresses.[48] Tiscali responded by blocking the accounts of the spammers[48] and placed new hardware in place to prevent the problem recurring.[49]

However, Tiscali have stated that customers will not be compensated for the outage, because email is a free service as part of a customers Internet package.[50] UK Internet trade association, the Internet Service Providers Association has registered a higher number of complaints due to the outage and the issue has been referred to arbitration service, CISAS.[50]

Broadband speed

In a study carried out by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom in 2009, Tiscali was found to have the lowest speed of any major broadband ISP in Britain. [51]

References

  1. ^ Carphone TalkTalk Launch Press Release, February 2003
  2. ^ [1]Carphone Warehouse plc Interim Statement - July 09
  3. ^ [2]Marketing - TalkTalk sponsors The X Factor to push 'brighter' brand
  4. ^ TalkTalk announces sponsorship of The X Factor TalkTalk Press Centre. 3 August 2009
  5. ^ Carphone to separate by July 2010 BBC News Online. 5 June 2009
  6. ^ The Carphone Warehouse (1 November 2004). "The Carphone Warehouse launches TalkTalk Broadband". Press release. http://www.talktalk.co.uk/talktalk/servlet/gben-server-PageServer?article=MAIN.UK.TALKTALK.COMPINFO.PRESS.2004.BBANDLAUNCH. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  7. ^ a b The Carphone Warehouse (11 April 2006). "Free broadband forever". Press release. http://www.talktalk.co.uk/talktalk/servlet/gben-server-PageServer?article=MAIN.UK.TALKTALK.COMPINFO.PRESS.2006.FREE. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  8. ^ ASA Adjudication
  9. ^ The Carphone Warehouse (2004). "Annual Report 2004". Press release. http://www.cpwplc.com/cpw/ir/reports/. Retrieved 2006-11-03. 
    • "On 1 January 2004, the Group acquired 100% of the issued share capital of E2save.com Limited, a company registered in England, for an initial gross consideration of £1.4m, with a further contingent deferred consideration of up to £3.3m payable over two years."
    • "On 8 March 2004, the Group acquired 100% of the issued share capital of Xtra Telecom SA, a fixed line service provider registered in Spain, for an initial gross consideration of £7.5m, with a further contingent deferred consideration expected to be up to £4.1m payable over two years."
  10. ^ a b c The Carphone Warehouse (2005). "Annual Report 2005". Press release. http://www.cpwplc.com/cpw/ir/reports/. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
    • "On 1 March 2005, the Group acquired 100% of the issued share capital of One Stop Phone Shop Limited, a company registered in England and Wales that specialises in the mobile 'off-the-page' market, for an initial gross cash consideration of £8.3m, with a further contingent deferred consideration of up to £6.7m payable over two years."
    • "On 16 December 2005, the Group acquired 100% of the issued share capital of Tele2 UK Communications Limited (Tele2 UK), a company registered in Englandand Wales, for a gross cash consideration of £11.5m. Tele2 UK is involved in the provision of telecommunications services to residential customers."
    • "On 19 December 2005, the Group acquired 100% of the issued share capital of Centrica Telecommunications Limited, Onetel Limited, Telco Holdings Limited, Awardmodel Limited and their subsidiaries (Onetel), all of which are registered in England and Wales, for a gross cash consideration of £169.6m. Onetel is involved in the provision of telecommunications services to both residential and business customers."
  11. ^ "Carphone Warehouse to acquire Time Warner's AOL Internet access business in the UK for £370 million". Carphone Warehouse Press Release. 11 October 2006. http://www.cpwplc.com/cpw/media/press/2006/2006-10-11/. Retrieved 2006-10-27. 
  12. ^ UPDATE 1-Carphone wins EU approval for Tiscali UK buy Reuters. 30 June 2009
  13. ^ [3]RNS - Completion of Tiscali Acquisition
  14. ^ Carphone Warehouse plans to split BBC News. 22 April 2009
  15. ^ Carphone to purchase Tiscali UK BBC News. 8 May 2009
  16. ^ Carphone to unveil TalkTalk chief Nick Clarke. The Independent. 28 November 2009
  17. ^ Carphone Warehouse plc - Interim Management Statement - January 2009
  18. ^ Carphone buys Tiscali's UK broadband business for £236m Daily Tepegraph
  19. ^ Carphone raises profit forecast BBC News Online. 27 November 2009
  20. ^ Carphone announces death of Tiscali UK David Meyer. ZDNet UK. 7 January 2010
  21. ^ Tiscali to rebrand as TalkTalk in January Which? 18 December 2009
  22. ^ TalkTalk UK Information entertainment broadband email and internet access TalkTalk
  23. ^ The Register, Carphone Warehouse Pulls BB Sponsorship
  24. ^ "When slamming the phone prompts a row". The Guardian. 23 April 2005. http://money.guardian.co.uk/phones/story/0,13283,1466811,00.html. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  25. ^ "Phone scam hits thousands". Daily Mail. 25 April 2005. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=399990&in_page_id=2. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  26. ^ "ASA Upholds 3 TalkTalk Complaints". ISPReview. 19 July 2006. http://www.ispreview.co.uk/cgi-bin/news/viewnews.cgi?id=EEVFFpAEVyiMgnauyF. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  27. ^ "Phone firm launches net price war". BBC. 11 April 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4898212.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  28. ^ "Broadband 'nightmare' for Talk Talk". The Sunday Times. 23 July 2006. http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,20411-2281303,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  29. ^ "TalkTalk customers break contract shackles". The Register. 29 September 2006. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/29/talktalk_lets_customers_leave. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  30. ^ "Watchdog viewers have been complaining all summer about Talk Talk. It seems the company's broadband revolution stalls on customer service.". Talk Talk broadband. BBC. 3 October 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/watchdog/reports/internet/internet_20061003.shtml. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  31. ^ "The Sunday interview: Charles Dunstone (the TalkTalk man)". Mail on Sunday. 5 November 2006. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/investing-and-markets/article.html?in_article_id=414385&in_page_id=3. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  32. ^ "TalkTalk Free Broadband "a disturbing nightmare" says CEO". CNET. 8 November 2006. http://crave.cnet.co.uk/desktops/0,39029426,49285066,00.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  33. ^ "Punters suffer in broadband price war". The Register. 14 November 2006. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/14/uswitch_survey_oct. Retrieved 2006-11-14. 
  34. ^ a b "Carphone gets mixed reception as broadband stalls". Reuters. 12 January 2007. http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlebusiness.aspx?type=businessNews&storyID=2007-01-12T090048Z_01_LAD002758_RTRUKOC_0_UK-CARPHONE-TRADING.xml. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  35. ^ "Carphone Warehouse Trading Update, Released: 12/01/2007". CPW. 12 January 2007. http://www.cpwplc.com/cpw/ir/lse/rnsitem?id=1168585296nRNSL4202P. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  36. ^ "Carphone plugs TalkTalk". Noble House Media Ltd, Mobile Today. 16 January 2007. http://www.mobiletoday.co.uk/content/15539.asp?men=2&sub=3. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  37. ^ F-Secure Spyware Information Pages: Apropos
  38. ^ F-Secure Spyware Information Pages: PeopleOnPage
  39. ^ ISP data deal with former 'spyware' boss triggers privacy fears
  40. ^ How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection
  41. ^ Web users angry at ISPs' spyware tie-up
  42. ^ Data pimping: surveillance expert raises illegal wiretap worries
  43. ^ Net think thank: Phorm is illegal
  44. ^ The Phorm “Webwise” System - a Legal Analysis
  45. ^ TalkTalk make Phorm Opt-In
  46. ^ [4]
  47. ^ Meyer, David (2007-05-30). "Tiscali scrambles to tackle spam". ZDNet. http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,1000000085,39287286,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  48. ^ a b "Tiscali e-mail 'hit' by spammers". BBC News. 2007-05-30. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6704003.stm. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  49. ^ Williams, Ian (2007-06-01). "Tiscali blames spammers for email outage". Computing. http://www.computing.co.uk/vnunet/news/2191233/tiscali-email-shutout-blamed. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  50. ^ a b Williams, Chris (2007-06-01). "Tiscali locks down contracts after email disaster". The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/01/tiscali_email_spam_doubts/. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  51. ^ BBC News | Technology | Broadband rates 'not up to speed'

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