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TalkTalk TV overtakes BT as engineers recruited for York fibre trial

TalkTalk has overhauled BT as the UK fourth-largest TV service as it hires engineers for its BT-busting gigabit fibre broadband trial in York. 

The YouView-based TalkTalk TV service had 1.102 million subscribers at the end of June, a rise of 712,000 over the past year.

Broadband customers for TalkTalk grew a modest 10,000 to 4.2m as it continues to shrug off less-profitable customers in rural areas.

TalkTalk's catching Virgin Media in the broadband customer leagues
TalkTalk’s catching Virgin Media in the broadband customer leagues

“We grew our fully unbundled base by 45,000 customers. Our legacy partially unbundled and off-net bases continued to reduce by 22,000 and 13,000 respectively, driving total net adds growth of 10,000 – in line with our stated objective of modest base growth,” said TalkTalk’s Interim Management Statement for the 3 months to 30 June 2014.

TalkTalk signed up 34,000 customers to the FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) broadband at up-to-76Mbps which it buys from BT, making a total of 241,000 fibre users.

TalkTalk’s also hoping that communications regulator Ofcom will reduce the wholesale cost of BT’s fibre services later this year.

The real fibre focus, however, is on its trial of FTTP (fibre to the premises) being conducted this summer in York with Sky and CityFibre, which will deliver speeds around 1Gpbs at similar costs to BT’s much-slower service.
                           
“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 2Mbps speeds and might wish to take TV,” TalkTalk added. 

“We expect that demand will grow steadily with heightened awareness of the product and growing bandwidth usage. 

“Our plans in York are progressing well. We have completed the initial planning phase for the first area in York and after a successful trial of the micro trenching process we have started recruitment of engineers for a larger trial on the streets of York later this summer. We are on track to begin connecting homes and businesses in 2015.”

It'll be a while before TalkTalk or BT challenges Virgin for TV third place
It’ll be a while before TalkTalk or BT challenges Virgin for TV third place

TalkTalk didn’t break down how many TV customers are taking the basic Essentials TV service or the advanced Plus TV, but said the advanced offer continues to do well.

“Self-install and Essentials both continued to gain traction with demand for Plus TV remaining firm. Pay content boost penetration and TVOD [on demand] movie volumes remained strong during the quarter.”

BT, Sky and Virgin will all publish updated financial results over the next couple of weeks, so it’s likely BT could pull ahead in the battle for YouView to catch up with Virgin Media.

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