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Welcome:   Talk Talk Broadband

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The brand name tells you that its origins are in telephones, with Talk Talk's internet services being a later addition. It is actually part of Carphone Warehouse, with TalkTalk broadband being launched in 2004. Together with AOL (the UK customer base was acquired in 2006) and Tiscali (acquired in 2009), it makes Carphone Warehouse the biggest provider of broadband to Britain's home users with over 4 million phone and broadband customers.

The homepage features TalkTalk Pro, the high performance package it launched in November 2009. This offers speeds up to 24 Mbps, unlimited downloads and an N router as well as some phone calls. Its cheaper Essentials deal offers lower speed, a capped, but none-the-less quite generous, download allowance and a G router. Talk Talk wireless is therefore available for both but you need to take line rental as part of the offer. The company's own unbundled network covers 80% of the UK population and three-quarters of Talk Talk broadband customers are on its own network. You can enter your postcode or phone number to check availability.

The Essentials product, launched in November 2008, is a move away from the usual 'one size fits all' deals. It provides a base package that can be tailored by 'boosts' that add speed, usage, further phone options and other features. Other products include a TalkTalk wireless adaptor to provide internet access for PCs without the appropriate modem, online backup and packages for business customers through their Opal division (www.opalbroadband.co.uk). Mobile broadband is not available, which seems strange considering their parent company, so if you want to access internet services from your phone or other mobile devices, you'll have to look elsewhere.

If you're trying to find the site, make sure you enter the correct name, which is www.talktalk.co.uk. Other variations, such as www.talktalk.com, www.talk-talk.co.uk or www.talk-talk.com either result in an error message or offer you the chance to buy the domain name (so we're assuming that Carphone Warehouse are not the owners!).

In the 2009 uSwitch awards, TalkTalk internet was voted the Most Improved Broadband Provider (not hard considering what they had to improve from!). It also won the Best Value for Money and Best Billing awards for its home phone service. It doesn't, as we mentioned, come out too well in customer reviews. Although the service is generally regarded as being cheap, the customer service is considered poor, with long waits on the phone. Ominously, the website says 'please be patient and bear with us' when making an online support call. The only consolation is that the calls are free through their landline.

The company sponsors ITV's X Factor and so you may be able to win tickets or even 'meet your idols' if you like that sort of thing (we're not X Factor fans). On a more relevant note, its download speeds rival anything that's not fibre optic and it announced in November 2009 that it had the capacity to cope with increased traffic resulting from the newly launched Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game. It has also predicted that consumer emails will be dead within 10 years as network sites take over and has pledged to challenge the government in the courts if forced to disconnect customers accused of illegal downloading.

There are some attractions here if looking for a broadband and phone package, with the option of fast download speeds, generous usage limit and inclusive phone calls at a cheap price. A novel feature is the availability of 'boosts', which can be added to the basic package so that particular features are provided. However, how this works in practice is something we can't comment on without actually using. A major concern is the poor reviews of the customer service ... there are normally a few dissenters for any internet provider, but this company's bad reviews stretch further than the cables connecting the customers. †



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