The headline figures for the TalkTalk Group in its latest financial statement are encouraging for the group as it now has some 4,186,000 broadband customers. Most of this growth of 110,000 customers is due though to Post Office customers now appearing in the TalkTalk Group results. The actual broadband net add figure excluding the Post Office customers is just 7,000.
The lack lustre growth of customers for TalkTalk is tempered by the fact that it actually gained 49,000 customers on its full LLU platform while losing 26,000 on the shared LLU platform and 16,000 left their off-net services. General consensus is that a customer on the full LLU platform is a better proposition than any of the other platforms.
The Essentials TV and Plus TV products are proving popular, as some 175,000 new customers joined one of these two services, taking their TV customer base to some 732,000. This growth brings with it the prospect of upsell for the various boosts and channel packages that are available in addition to the over the air FreeView channels.
Unlike Sky, TalkTalk is talking about the number of fibre customers, which stands at 177,000 (an increase of 35,000, compared to 47,000 in the previous quarter), though there are some interesting comments on how TalkTalk sees fibre growth.
"Fibre growth also benefited from promotional activity during Q2 and has since returned to a more regular pattern of growth. Demand for fibre from our customers remains modest except when it can deliver transformational improvements in their broadband experience, such as for those customers who currently achieve less than 2 Mbps speeds and might wish to take TV."TalkTalk comment on the 35,000 new fibre customers
TalkTalk already sells what maybe the cheapest FTTC service, Fibre Medium with SimplyBroadband service costing £23 per month (£12.50 broadband plus voice line rental from £10.50), so to have the provider saying people are unwilling to spend the extra £10 unless their connection is extremely slow suggests recouping investment in new infrastructure is going to be a very long term thing. It could also feed into the picture that the speeds of FTTC are more than enough for a good number of years, i.e. if many who get speeds in the 6 to 8 Mbps region are unwilling to move that they have no absolute requirement for the extra speed.
Old Post Office telephone and broadband customers have been worried about being dumped onto full LLU connections, but the figures from the interim statement show a mixture, 81,000 fully unbundled customers (both phone and broadband on the TalkTalk platform), 3,000 partially unbundled (broadband on TalkTalk platform, but telephone with another provider) and 19,000 off-net (using WLR and a BT Wholesale based connection).
Looking at the national picture, with a concerted marketing push TalkTalk is perhaps just two quarters (150,000 broadband customers) away from pushing Virgin Media into fourth place as a broadband retailer in the UK. The new simplified migration system that should roll-out later in 2014 may encourage a more fluid market, particularly with Sky to TalkTalk and vice versa moves.