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TalkTalk teases fibre broadband details: Can it bring FTTP to 10 million?

TalkTalk has revealed details about the scale of its FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband trial in York. 

The UFO (Ultra Fibre Optic) service has been rolled out to 8,000 homes in the city using CityFibre’s network instead of using BT’s Openreach arm, making download speeds of 940Mbps available to willing trialists for just £21.70/month.

Only 560 passed customers have made use of UFO so far, and just 504 of those have chosen to stick with the service, although the company notes that ‘the vast majority were not existing TalkTalk customers’. 

The trial will involve TalkTalk and Sky using CityFibre’s network to roll out FTTP connections to roughly 20,000 premises across York. 

With a build cost of under £500 per premises, TalkTalk says it ‘remains confident about the potential’ to build an FTTP network spanning around 10 million UK homes. With Sky going all but silent on its role in the TalkTalk-CityFibre joint venture, it remains to be seen whether or not TalkTalk will be able to raise the (at least) £5bn needed to go it alone. 

Financials released by the group today show that TalkTalk’s customer base has shrunk down to 3,996,000 from 4,177,000 customers customers a year ago. Earlier this year it was revealed that over 100,000 subscribers left in the wake of the hack

See how TalkTalk’s latest figures compare to Sky and Virgin Media’sProfits have dropped to £38 million, down from £54 million from a year ago, thanks in part to £3 million being spent on keeping customers who stuck around post-hack sweet with the offer of free upgrades and TV channels and costs associated with investments in security. 

Despite all of the setbacks, churn – the rate at which customers bugger off – was down at 1.3 per cent for the last year, down from 1.4 per cent in 2015 and 1.6 per in 2014, something which has given chief executive Dido Harding cause for celebration. 

Possibly taking a leaf out of the Alan Partridge playbook, Harding said: “The business bounced back strongly in the final quarter following the cyber attack in October.  

“We recorded our lowest ever churn and stabilised the broadband base, testimony to the speed with which customer sentiment towards TalkTalk has recovered, the success of our greater focus on existing customers, and the growing benefits of our simplification programme.

“There has never been a clearer space for a trusted value champion and our learnings from and experience since the cyber attack have helped to focus our plans for the year ahead.”

“We see strong opportunities for growth across all our products, both for consumers and for businesses, against the backdrop of an increasingly supportive regulatory environment.”

TalkTalk has openly called for the formal separation of Openreach from the wider BT Group – something which telecoms watchdog Ofcom has stopped short of doing

The recent launch of TalkTalk TV Store, a rebranded version of Blinkbox, and the forthcoming availability of BT Sport on TalkTalk TV packages could see those subscriber numbers grow – although we’re still waiting on details of pricing, which was sadly absent from TalkTalk’s quarterly figures. 

If TalkTalk wants to realise its dream of bringing FTTP to 10 million homes, it’s going to have to be quick. Earlier this month, both BT and Virgin Media announced plans to make FTTP services available to 2 million and 1 million premises by 2020, respectively

By the same timeframe, BT expects to have put G.fast services, capable of delivering download speeds of around 500Mbps, in reach of 12 million addresses. Needless to say, it’s too soon to know who will have the last laugh. 

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