- Cheap line rental
- Inclusive UK phone calls
- Hybrid fibre for £10/month extra
- Customise with boosters
- Average ADSL broadband speeds
- Expensive off-network broadband
- Uninspired mobile broadband offer
TalkTalk, the parent company of Carphone Warehouse, is one of the UK’s biggest communications providers, with broadband and phone services as well as mobile broadband.
TalkTalk broadband is available throughout the country, with up-to-24Mbps ADSL2+ on offer to about 85 per cent of homes, based on BT opening up its exchanges around the country. Almost anyone else can get a slower connection managed by BT (but a lot more expensive).
Ofcom’s November 2011 survey of UK broadband speeds clocked TalkTalk at 7.2-8.8Mbps, which is pretty spot on the average for the industry, and prices are sharply competitive, with bundled phone calls and landline as standard. TalkTalk is also very competitive if you only want phone calls, and has an interesting system of ‘Boosters’ to add on features like extra download capacity, free UK mobile calls and free international calls.
A recent broadband upgrade boosts speeds up to 40Mbps using hybrid fibre (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet), which should give about 35Mbps in practice. It costs just £10 a month extra, plus installation.
An upgrade to 80Mbps broadband services is in the pipeline, due to launch sometime in April. TalkTalk customers can pre-register for this now, which will cost £15 extra on top of your regular TalkTalk subscription.
TalkTalk gives you the fastest connection available through its network of ADSL-enabled exchanges, which is usually up-to-24Mbps ADSL2+ and reaches about 85 per cent of the UK. A lucky few can upgrade to hybrid fibre at up-to-40Mbps, and if you’re not on the TalkTalk network there’s a slower BT-managed ADSL connection.
TalkTalk’s ADSL2+ service recorded an average download speed of 7.2-8.8Mbps in Ofcom’s November 2011 broadband speed report, with uploads around 750kbps.
In the package
All of TalkTalk’s broadband services come with a free wireless router, a TalkTalk email account and inclusive UK phone calls (see Calls and Line Rental for details). There’s a £30 connection fee for new customers, although it’s often waived, and you must get TalkTalk line rental at £14.50/month or Value Line Rental of £114/year in advance (equivalent to £9.50/month). HomeSafe is supplied for free, and it’s designed to help parents block every device from websites you've defined as unsuitable, or restrict access at different times of day.
A Safety & Security Boost is available for any broadband package for £2/month, including F-Secure Internet Security 2011 for three PCs and parental controls for family internet use.
The Essentials Package costs £6.50/month and has a 40GB download allowance on a 12-month contract, as well as inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and 0870/0845 numbers. You can extend your allowance to 80GB for an extra £5/month and add Anytime calls for £4.50/month.
The Plus Package costs £14.50/month for unlimited downloads and inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines and 0870/0845 numbers, on a 12-month contract.
Getting a Fibre Optic Boost costs £10/month on top of either the Essentials or Plus packages, and there’s a £25 connection fee for an engineer to set you up, but it’s an 18-month contract. Real world speeds are likely to be around a satisfying 35Mbps downstream.
If you’re not on a TalkTalk exchange, you can sign up to a BT-managed ADSL connection for £15.32/month extra on top of the Essentials or Plus package, but speeds will be restricted to 4-5Mbps downstream.
TalkTalk has a very simple mobile broadband offer with a simple USB modem for 3G broadband, using Vodafone’s mobile network.
It’s a one-month rolling contract, and the dongle costs £29.99. For £10/month you get a 1GB download allowance and if you exceed that you’ll be charged at 10p/MB.
TalkTalk TV has relaunched, bringing with it a host Sky channels including (Sky 1, Sky Sports and Sky Movies) plus YouView, the new TV platform that lets you search backwards in the programme guide.
TalkTalk bundles the YouView box - worth £299 - free with all TalkTalk Plus broadband subscriptions and gives you access to a range of extra channels from as little as £5 a month. These channels are accessible through the TalkTalk Player, a separate section of the YouView EPG.
TalkTalk TV group channel selections into Boosts. These are as follows:
TV Starter Boost: £5/month - Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Living, Sky Livingit, Sky Sports News.
TV Music Boost: £5/month - MTV Music, MTV Hits, MTV Base, MTV Classic, MTV Rocks, MTV Dance, Q, Kiss, The Box, Kerrang, Smash Hits!, Magic, 45 Linear Audio Channels (Music Choice), Music On Demand, Music Choice.
Kids Boost: £5/month - Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Nick Jnr, Nick Toons, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Scamp, Disney Channel On Demand, Disney Junior On Demand, Disney XD On Demand, Nickelodeon On Demand, Nick Jnr On Demand, Cartoon Network On Demand (CN Now), Boomerang On Demand.
These can be bought individually or together as part of bundled Boost packages which are as follows:
Entertainment Boost: £10/month - Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Living, Sky Livingit, Comedy Central, Alibi, E!, FX, GOLD, Sy-Fy, Universal Channel, Watch, Comedy Central On Demand, MTV, MTV On Demand, Discovery Channel, Discovery Real Time, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Sports News, Eden, Blighty, Discovery Home&Health, Good Food, Home, Nat Geo On Demand, Good Food On Demand, Eden On Demand.
Entertainment Extra Boost: £15/month - Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Living, Sky Livingit, Comedy Central, Alibi, E!, FX, GOLD, Sy-Fy, Universal Channel, Watch, Comedy Central On Demand, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Nick Jnr, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nick Toons, Scamp, Disney Channel On Demand, Disney Junior On Demand, Disney XD On Demand, Nickelodeon On Demand, Nick Jnr On Demand, Cartoon Network On Demand (CN Now), Boomerang On Demand, MTV, MTV Music, MTV Hits, MTV Base, MTV Classic, MTV Rocks, MTV Dance, Q, Kiss, Kerrang, The Box, Smash Hits!, Magic 45, Linear Audio Channels (Music Choice), Music Choice, MTV On Demand, Music On Demand, Discovery Channel, Discovery Real Time, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Sports News, Eden, Blighty, Discovery Home&Health, Good Food, Home, Nat Geo On Demand, Good Food On Demand, Eden On Demand.
Sky Movies and Sky Sports and ESPN - Premium Boost packages
Sky Movies: £15/month - Sky Movies Premiere, Sky Movies Showcase, Sky Movies Comedy, Sky Movies Classics, Sky Movies Drama & Romance, Sky Movies Family, Sky Movies Modern Greats, Sky Movies Action & Adventure, Sky Movies Crime & Thriller, Sky Movies Indie, Sky Movies Sci-Fi & Horror.
Sky Sports: £30/month - Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4, Sky Sports F1.
ESPN: £10/month - ESPN, ESPN America.
Sky Movies and Sky Sports can be bought together as a bundle deal for £40/month. Alternatively, you can get ESPN included with Sky Movies and Sky Sports for £45/month, saving you £15 a month in total.
What else does TalkTalk TV have?
TalkTalk TV also has a couple of on-demand extras. Asian TV Boost costs £13/month and promises a selection of Bollywood classics and TV shows.
PictureBox costs £5/month and give you access to a rotating line-up of 28 on-demand movies, with seven new movies landing in the catalogue each week.
For any TalkTalk phone or broadband service, you must get TalkTalk line rental at £14.50/month or Value Line Rental of £114/year in advance (equivalent to £9.50/month).
There are two phone plans: evening and weekend for £3.61/month, and anytime for £4.71/month. They include caller ID and number withholding, and you can customise them with a wide range of Boosters.
If you want free calls to UK mobiles, these cost £3/month for 100 minutes, or £5/month for 500 minutes. You can add Call Divert, Call Waiting, Ringback, Three-way Calling, Caller Display and Reminder Call, all for £4.10/month (or £2.55/month each). The Global Minutes Boost gives £500 minutes of calls to 100 international destinations for £5/month.
Voicemail costs £2.55/month, anonymous caller reject is £3.88/month, and last caller barring is £3.25/month.
Unlimited UK evening and weekend landline calls are available from 7pm to 7am weekdays, and between midnight Friday and midnight Sunday. Inclusive calls apply to UK numbers starting 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870, but exclude calls to Channel Island, dial-up internet, indirect access and all other numbers. The maximum inclusive call time is 60 minutes per call.
All chargeable calls subject to 13.1p connection fee with UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers charged at 7.95p/min. UK mobiles are charged at 12.26p/min any time.
New and reconnected phone lines are subject to status, acceptance and availability, with a £50.00 connection fee and credit check for a minimum of 12 months.
TalkTalk User Reviews
"Been with Talk Talk a couple of months. Was with Virgin for a few years but they couldn't supply my new place. Does not seem as reliable as Virgin with loss of service on a couple of occasions and varying DL speeds. Not exactly cheap either but OK."
"I've joined talk talk by default as they've taken over pipex. I pay the premium unlimited monthly cost so i've yet to see much difference. however, internet speeds are fairly average and you can really see the problem when using multiple devices on the same connection. The connection is usually very stable so I have no complaints about connectivity"
"Originally signed up with Tiscali due to lack of choice for my exchange. I've not had any issues due to drop out or slow speed. Modem was replaced quickly and efficiently after it failed.
"we have been with talk talk for ages and they habit of cutting us off when we pay the bill early! the internet is of a standard speed i would say, not slow, not fast. takes forever to get through on the phone and they dont usually help much unless you threaten to leave"
"Phone deal is good - no charge after 7pm at night and before 7am as included in monthly package. Broadband speed is slow and connection drops off on a regular basis - which is annoying. Secure package is excellent at £2 per month - it stops me getting viruses/trojans etc. Helpline support is bit hit'n'miss - but no charge for calls to them. OK broadband provider - phone calls very good."
"I've been with these years now,i find it an excellent all round service !!"
"We have used TalkTalk for broadband and phone for two years. My mother switched away from them because speed dropped dramatically at school home time but we only seem to suffer during the holidays. We shall check internet speeds when we move to see if changing supplier is worth while but have had no real complaints with service. I do feel they have not approached us with any better offers and it seems to be a buyers market at the moment so we may be able to get a better tv/phone/broadband package. I think everything depends where you live and the experience of your neighbours counts more when service levels are so regionalised!"
"Fairly reliable connection, broadband speed can be slow at peak times."
"Talk Talk is probably the cheapest broadband and phone service provider. On three different occasions we have had a few hours without internet and phone. Apart from this, we don't really have any complaints about the actual telephone service itself, which runs on our pre-existing BT line. In our circumstances, where the the majority of our calls are local, we just pay for service and line rental each month and local calls are free - local area extends at least 20 miles away, but could be more. The Broadband is slow and intermittent. I often need to reconnect in the morning. Definitely could be better. We have saved money by changing to Talk Talk, and, as others will no doubt agree, you probably get what you pay for."
"I had a lot of problems in the beginning when I signed up as I was lied to by their agent on the phone as to what I would be paying.
The broadband is ok though it can be slow in the evenings."
"Slow connection and connection is regularly dropped.
Can take sometime to be able to speak to customer services, but to be fair they have been efficient.
Phone line is fine. Cheap deal & I suppose you get what you pay for"
"They have great value deals however I do find that my broadband sometimes just goes off by itself so not 100% reliable. I am not getting the predicted speeds either so not as fast as I'd hoped."
"Was with tiscali and migrated to Talk Talk when they took it over. To say its been disappointing is an understatement the bills were wrong for months and were more than I was led to believe and despite being only a short duistance from my local exchange I've always had a disappointing speed. Customer service is not interested! can't wait for my contract to expire."
"I have been with talktalk for years with internet and phone deal, I have got no complaints, I get to phone my daughter in Australia whenever I want and its all included in the monthly price."
"Very average. I haven't used the phone service and I think that's the best thing about talk talk. But I can't really complain, we have a fairly good deal and it's far from terrible."
"Was offered a good deal 3 months ago. So far so good!!"
"can be slow at times, which drives me mad. would prefer he option of one year contracts. my bill is never more than a couple of pounds over my contracted price as i generally use the phone on local calls. not a bad provider, but not the best. once my contract is up for renewal will more than likely move somewhere else."
"Good value for money,But "SKETCHY" reliability at certain times of day,and I'm not just Talk Talking about peak times either."
"We have telephone and broadband. Telephone no problems and broadband is not too bad but we do lose connections quite a lot and at times can be very slow. But overall good."
"Broad band service is good until there is a problem, then forget it. I when 8 weeks with no connection due to due to problems between the TALK TALK and BT line. All there call sites are in India and are of no help. There English is very bad and it takes for ever for them to sort problems."
"Cheap as chips - Great reliable broadband they seem to fix issues fast when things go wrong and the any time phone package means I can talk for England and no nasty surprises when I am billed."
"I was a little worried when I moved from f2s to TT hearing of some poor residential porformances and speed. No such issues with the transfer or indeed any other issues."
"Well priced deals. Reliable and fast broadband. Account can be controlled viagood website. But if anything goes wrong, the helpline support is awful."
"Been with talk talk a few years now and it does me just fine, enough speed to stream and download movies etc. living in a small villiage I not expecting alot but it has been getting slow as of late."
"Pretty good broadband (nearly 8mb ps) although do suffer from short frustrating dropouts. Bundled price with home telephone is hard to beat"
"I use essentials package general surfing, and found once the initially supplied router was changed for an adequate model that broadband has been acceptably consistent around 9mb. telephone package good. an ok service so far"
"Very reasonable rates once set up. Although customer service is a bit of a nightmare.."
"Been with Talk Talk for 3months and no problems so far,so very happy. A little faster than BT with 4 times the max download 40 gig, BT was 10 gig. This is cheap as chips and so far so good."
"Great value for money, had some issues with the supplied router at first, however it has been swapped and I've had no issues since. Overall if your looking for the cheapest option, talk talk would come out on top."
"Can be a little hit and miss at times but on the whole pretty stable and contrary to other reviews, their customer service is quite good."
"I have been with Talk Talk for several years and over all there service as been excellent for home phone use,but not the best for broadband as the signal can drop now and again but acceptable for the price I pay so all in all I am happy with Talk Talk."
"I think talk talk is excellent I use it for phone and broadband good value for money I would recommend it to all my friends ."
"Joined Talk Talk a couple of years ago when CPW offered the free laptop on sign up. We're now past the 24 month contract, but still paying £19.99 per month! Broadband speeds VERY slow, loss of connection or failure to connect at all very frequent. If you call up customer service, it's never their fault & if the solution isn't on their 'crib sheet', they can't help you."
"You can't argue with the value, but it comes at the cost of customer service. The broadband and phone prices are good, and can be made even better with boosts such as £5 for 500 mobile minutes (but be warned - they say to all UK mobiles, but it's not true). The broadband is adequate, though not suitable for P2P. Notorious drop-outs from some of their routers. And if you're looking for a SIM only mobile deal, then they have some great packages which can be great for families. But the customer service and support is often very poor. Eager and polite overseas support staff regularly fail to understand the nature of a problem, searching instead for the 'right' cut 'n' paste reply. The UK support staff on the forums seem to have a like it or lump it attitude."
"Having been with TalkTalk for about 6 years I would recommend them to anyone. We've had no problems at all, connection speed seems quick and definitely enough for a family with teenage kids. The packages are competitively priced and for anyone with family abroad it works out to be very good value!"
"Whilst TalkTalk did provide me with a free router, which was a lot easier to setup than other routers I've had in the past. When I did need to ring them up to ask about some certain settings, their technicians varied greatly in communication skills. Some were fantastic, others were awful. Overall TalkTalk have decent customer service (6/10), and a very competitive pricing structure (9/10). So overall I'm happy with them."
"Not fast, but cheap & reliable. Customer service has improved dramatically, felt like a VIP last time I called them."
"Cheap & cheerful, but expensive calls if anything goes wrong..."
"Router wouldn't work and exchanged one wouldn't go wireless plus it can be very slow in the evenings. However its cheap and generally works well and I have found the talk talk forums are amazing at solving problems and much better than phone calls. I would recommend paying line rental in advance to make more savings but been with them three years as you get all you need if can stick to 40gb download limit."
"Talk Talk is good for price but the router they supply didn't work, so we had to buy a one. The 40GB download limit is hardly sufficient and getting extra bandwith is not cheap. Other than that they are good value."
"All in all im very happy with my phone and broadband provider, TALKTALK, the download speed is fast and the phoneline is clear as a bell. The only thing unfortunatly is that there fixed price isent fixed, it keeps raising, this is a problem."
"As competitively priced as they are, the quality of the internet connection in my local area is highly inconsistent and follows no pattern on a day to day basis. Also the router supplied is perfectly serviceable for numerous connections but won't allow an Xbox 360 to connect to media center on PC, a known issue with the relevant model. We have been waiting on a replacement for weeks and still heard nothing. Not a happy bunny."
"Talk-Talk. I receive Broadband & phone yet for nearly two years now have had nothing but trouble with the internet side. Price/packagewise they cannot be beaten. That is really the only positive thing I have to say about them. Everytime I complain I am told to contact BT as it's their line, BT tells me TalkTalk have to approach them but Talktalk deny this. Last week I went through to disconnections to cancel the package & suddenly they offer to send a super engineer to look into the problem. He told me they'll get BT to retune the line which will increase speed & stability. This has taken two years!! My neighbours both get 2.5mb with BT yet I struggle with .7 on a good day with a ping over 100milliseconds. The best & only real way to deal with TalkTalk is to always ask for their disconnection dept whatever your problem. These guys are the best at their job, have the most flexibility because it's their job to keep your custom (they immediately cancelled this months bill) & they are UK based. Remember to join TalkTalk is a free call. Every other number is very expensive."
"VERY HAPPY NO PROBLEMS CHEAP PROVIDER WOULD RECOMEND USE SEVERAL LAPTOPS WITH JUST ONE ROUTER CAN USUALLY GET GREAT SIGNAL"
"Very happy with talk talk ,no problems so far run several laptops in household no problems very reasonable"
"Started using talk talk plus service in January, am disappointed with the slow download speeds and often find when switched the modem off and switch on after even a day, requires a re-boot/ has connection issues automatically! Telephoe service appears ok, but does not always switch to 1571 (optional) answer message when phone not answered."
"We have phone broadband and TV though talk talk and have found their broadband works well. Thankfully we haven't had to call customer services for this. We don't use the phone however their TV service is terrible, it freezes constantly and I get the impression that they aren't focusing on the TV area of the business any more so don't want to help. We were originally with Tiscali which was taken over by Talk Talk, the price was increased however we had no notification that this would happen until we called to enquire why it had shot up so dramatically. We have been the lucky ones with regards to talk talk however even we have had a few issues with them. When we move we will leave Talk Talk and go to another provider, the only reason we haven't done this is because we don't want to get in a 12month contract when we are unsure when and where we will be going."
"I was with talk talk, couldn't wait to leave, customer service was absolutely terrible, I spent nearly 6 hours constantly on the phone one day being transferred from operator to operator or on hold"
"once everything up and running then it is great, however if you need any tech support then be prepared for a long tiresome journey, dealing with their layered support. customer service leaves a lot to be desired"
"I think they are actually starting to become quite expensive. I had numerous problems with billing and their customer service skills are horrendous. I am actually leaving them at the end of the month, I made them aware of this and they offered to reduce my bills... well maybe they should have given me that offer before I told them I was going to leave, I would avoid them"
"I've been with TalkTalk for about 3 years now, after initially taking out an 18 monthscontract for telephone line rental, telephone calls and broadband, for a total monthly outlay of approx £19. Pros:
1) very high download limit - 40Gb per month - a good sensible amount.
2) Very few disconnections
3)Very good website, with full information about your account, call usage, broadband usage etc. Cons:
1) Very slow download speed - usually somewheer in the region of just 2.5 Mb/s. I live in a city, but almost 2 miles from exchange, and we haven't got cable to the cabinet yet. I can get far better speeds from 3 Mobile broadband!
2) Customer service by phone is a bit hit and miss - mainly offshore, and sometimes provide irrelevant help."
"Have been with Talk Talk for years and I have to say I have never had any serious problems with them, had an issue with my phone line once but they kept in regular touch to let me know the progress."
"Never had any real problems with Talk Talk, always found broadband speeds to be the fastest I've had since starting with broadband."
"SIGNED UP BUT TOOK 8 WEEKS TO GAT CONNECTED. NO APOLOGY RECEIVED THEY JUST KEPT BLAMING BT. SERVICE USED TO BE REASONABLY QUICK BUT RECENTLY HAS GOT SLOWER. HARD TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THEM"
"I've found this to be a solid broadband service (I don't use them for phone calls). The billing system caused me problems, though. They stopped collecting payments twoards the end of 2011 and didn't tell me. The first I knew about it was when they cut me off!"
"They are improving, they need to improve still but they are very cheap :)"
"Bad customer service. If you exceed download limit, they slow the internet down. Doesn't work very well at peak times anyway."
"Talk Talk offer a competitively priced broadband, but sometimes their customer service can leave you tearing your hair out. Our router/modem recently failed but it took ten days to receive a new one because you can't use just any modem with Talk Talk, you have to use one of theirs which are now getting a bit long in the tooth so Carphone Warehouse don't stock them any more. So, after being Internet-less for ten days, how easy was it to set up the new modem? Very. But we find that we can't take a laptop far from the house before it loses the Wi-fi signal."
"I got Talk Talk by default being a satisfied Pipex customer. My line speeds have recently increased so that's a positive point. The customer service is absolutely atrocious. I'm still beng chargd separately fr phone and broadband despite filling out forms to get them billed together last Octiber. Try phoning them to sort it out and you get to speak to someone who acts as though they have never heard of the Internet. I have had the occasional line drop with them though these are infrequent and don't usually last for long. I'll stick with them a little longer to see how it goes."
"This company is average, sometimes the internet cuts off without warning and can stay off for sometimes up to a day, the phone also goes off a lot too again with no warning which is not very good since I have medical problems. Also their web site goes down a lot so you can not check your net usage or account."
"Terrible customer service and we never get the download speeds advertised! Also do not believe the download limit counter thingy; it always tells us we've gone over and they are threatening to charge us more because of this, but we checked the dates and we weren't even in the country!!! TalkTalk may be cheap but you're getting what you pay for and certainly no more- DON'T tie yourself into a long contract with them or you will probably regret it like we do :)"
"Got phone and broadband recently and have no complaints as such, especially on the price. Th package is a lot cheaper than I was paying before with BT. Broadband has a few momentary blips that disconnect me from things like my connection to work but it's nothing I can't deal with. Customer care were ok when I phoned, not UK based though..."
"Great Value! - We have been with TalkTalk for 6 months now. Connection was quick and simple and we have had had no issues with our unlimted broadband package since. Ive heard some people have had issues with cancelling but this doesnt matter as we dont intend to."
"I've been with Talk Talk for many years and have only experienced one major issue in all that time. The customer service was not great in resolving the problem and it took a while, but eventually was sorted out. And for the low price you pay I guess you can't expect everything! Overall I've experienced a reliable and fast broadband service from Talk Talk."