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TalkTalk review: A poor option on all counts

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 22
(Starting from) Note: The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Retail Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.7%

Among the cheaper providers, but our survey exposes the reasons that prices are low

Pros

  • Cheap tariffs, especially at the low end of full fibre
  • Good eero router equipment with full-fibre lines

Cons

  • Poor performance scores in our survey
  • Long-running problems with customer service

TalkTalk is arguably the biggest victim of the new wave of full-fibre providers that have entered the broadband market in the past few years. When upstarts such as Hyperoptic are offering blistering speeds at bargain prices, even brands as big as TalkTalk struggle to compete on price.

TalkTalk has always sat at the cheaper end of the broadband market, but its prices are no longer cheap enough to compensate for its flaws. 

According to our YouGov partnered survey, customer service remains TalkTalk’s biggest problem. Only around 4/10 customers are satisfied with its customer service, with almost 2/10 declaring themselves unhappy. Only Virgin Media performs worse in this regard.

Speed and reliability scores are firmly in the bottom half of the table, too, despite TalkTalk having one of the better router offerings when it comes to full-fibre connections (which we’ll come to shortly).  

All things considered, those cheap-ish tariffs don’t add up to great value, according to many TalkTalk customers. Despite recording an above average score, only 58% of TalkTalk customers were happy with the value on offer, with 19% unhappy. And with 57% of the company’s customers claiming that their prices have increased in the past year, it’s hard to see those value scores improving anytime soon. 

There are bright spots in the TalkTalk offering, however. Let’s see if they are enough to tempt you to give the company the benefit of the doubt.

Check prices at TalkTalk

TalkTalk broadband review: Fibre 35 and Fibre 65

TalkTalk’s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) offerings are reasonably priced at £27 and £28. For the sake of £12 per year, there really isn’t any point opting for Fibre 35 – unless your line isn’t fast enough to support Fibre 65. 

Customers on these connections are supplied a TalkTalk Wi-Fi Hub, which is an older Wi-Fi 5 model. This isn’t a huge problem given the limited speeds on offer from FTTC connections; but the Amazon eero routers on offer with TalkTalk’s full-fibre connections are far better equipped devices and more attractive to have sat on your sideboard.  

READ NEXT: Best broadband

TalkTalk broadband review: Full Fibre 150, 500 and 900

TalkTalk’s prices are pretty competitive when it comes to full-fibre connections, not least at the bottom end of the scale, where its Full Fibre 150 product is no more expensive than its FTTC connections. 

As we mentioned above, moving to full fibre also unlocks the Amazon eero 6 router, which is a Wi-Fi 6 device that’s far more capable of delivering faster speeds than TalkTalk’s dated Wi-Fi Hub. The real strength of the attractive looking eero system is when it’s used as a mesh network, with multiple extender units eliminating dead spots around the home. TalkTalk will try to upsell you this offering as an additional monthly extra, but it will likely prove cheaper in the long run to buy the eero extenders yourself (from Amazon) and add them to your home network.

It’s worth noting that TalkTalk also offers some slightly different tariffs for those people covered by one of its full-fibre network partners, CityFibre. 

Fibre 35Fibre 65Full Fibre 150Full Fibre 500Full Fibre 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£27£28£28£39£45
Upfront costNoneNoneNoneNoneNone
Stated speed38Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec152Mbits/sec525Mbits/sec944Mbits/sec
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

Note: The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Retail Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.7%

READ NEXT: Sky Broadband review

TalkTalk broadband review: Coverage

In a similar vein to Zen Internet and Vodafone, TalkTalk has more than one full-fibre network provider, allowing it to reach more homes with the fastest possible speeds than those providers that rely on Openreach alone.

Openreach has 12.5m homes within its full-fibre footprint, and CityFibre is aiming to reach 8m by the end of 2025, so if you live in a major town or city then there’s a decent chance you’ll be covered by one of the two full-fibre networks. The rest will have to settle for the slower speeds on offer from TalkTalk’s FTTC tariffs (Fibre 35 and Fibre 65).  

READ NEXT: Now Broadband review

TalkTalk broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction

TalkTalk might have multiple full-fibre providers and some of the best router equipment offered by any of the providers, but somehow that isn’t converting into satisfaction with broadband speeds. A relatively modest 69% of the TalkTalk customers we surveyed said they were satisfied with their connection speed, while 14% said they were unhappy. These scores are below average and leave TalkTalk loitering in the bottom half of the table, a long way behind award-winning Zen Internet, which also uses both Openreach and CityFibre. It goes to show you the difference a good broadband provider can make to performance, even when they’re using the same wholesale network providers. 

There are question marks over TalkTalk’s reliability, too. A reasonable 72% said they were satisfied with the stability of their connection, but 12% were unhappy. Again, that places TalkTalk a long way down the reliability league table.

The customer service scores are where TalkTalk really has work to do, echoing the same pattern we saw in last year’s survey. When way below half (43%) of your customers are satisfied with the service on offer, you know you have a problem. To put that into perspective, category winner Zen Internet had close to double the portion of satisfied customers (83%). 

There’s work to do in the Contact Centre, too, with only 53% of customers left satisfied after reaching out to the support team for help. Only Virgin Media scores worse here. 

Our figures are backed up by findings from regulator Ofcom, where TalkTalk is among the most complained about providers when it comes to home broadband. 

Check price at TalkTalk

TalkTalk broadband review: Verdict

Yes, it’s one of the cheaper providers out there, but with broadband now an essential, many people seem to be realising that going with TalkTalk is a false economy. Poor scores for speed, reliability and especially customer service make it difficult to make a case for TalkTalk’s broadband offering.

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