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ISP TalkTalk Business Migrates UK SMEs to Residential Broadband Package

Monday, Feb 25th, 2013 (1:10 am) - Score 4,354

TalkTalk Business, which back in 2011 warned SME’s that “domestic grade broadband is not designed to cope with the demands of running a business“, appears to have changed its tune. A large number of their customers have now received letters which confirm that they’ll soon be migrated to the ISPs residential TalkTalk Plus package.

The unusual move came to light earlier this month when “thousands” of the ISPs business customers began to receive letters (a copy of one is pasted at the bottom) telling them that their “service is about to get better” thanks to the free anytime calls, unlimited downloads, TV and improved “HomeSafe” security offered by TalkTalk’s domestic focused Plus package.

Some of those affected were former customers of Opal Telecom (owned and run by TalkTalk), such as Steve Homer the MD of SMHprojects Limited, whom had originally been promised a low contention ratio with prioritised business traffic and better support under TalkTalk Business’s old equivalent ADSL2+ based package(s).

Steve Homer, Managing Director of SMHprojects, told ISPreview.co.uk:

I am a small business that relies on WEBEX and video conferences that I host on my line. I have a dedicated business line that gives me 15Mb down and about 1Mb upload in a village that gets about 4Mb on a normal BT package.

No one at TalkTalk would address my detailed questions about the differences in the packages. Business support said they did not know enough about residential to help and residential would not talk to me as I am business.

Customer services finally rang me after 3 emails and told me it affects “thousands” of SMEs and it is for our own good as it will save us money. When I asked why I had been selected and by whom I was told that “The directors of talktalk are making big changes and it is necessary – it’s for your own benefit”.”

The letter itself also included a brief FAQ, which failed to shed any light on the differences between the old business focused and new domestic package. Similarly the letter gives customers no opt-out option for the migration, although Homer states that one was eventually offered after several further communications via phone and email.

It’s worth noting that TalkTalk Business also offers a range of similar packages to ‘Plus‘, which makes us equally confused as to why the ISP would choose to migrate less lucrative customers onto a domestic solution that may potentially end up being less suitable than one of their existing business options. Business clients usually prefer to spend more for a better quality of service and not the other way around.

A TalkTalk Spokesperson told ispreview.co.uk:

TalkTalk Group is committed to ensuring each customer is on the right service for them and that they’re receiving our best value. Recently we’ve identified a number of customers who we believe would receive a better value service and access to new products including fibre from £10, smartphones from £5 and TalkTalk TV, and alternative tools to manage their accounts online. We recognise customers have differing needs and will discuss their individual requirements to ensure we’re offering them the right product and service.”

The migration stands in stark contrast to comments made in 2011 (here) by the then Transformation Director of TalkTalk Business, Andy Lockwood, whom warned that small and medium sized businesses could be losing £357m in lost labour and 32.4 million hours per month of staff downtime due to taking a domestic instead of business broadband package (at the time TT’s business options were ironically almost akin to domestic packages).

Andy Lockwood, TTB’s Transformation Director, said:

Broadband connectivity is the lifeblood of any SME and impacts on virtually all aspects of its business performance. While being perfectly suited for all your online needs at home, domestic grade broadband is not designed to cope with the demands of running a business.”

Mr Homer noted that business traffic is prioritised over residential traffic on the TalkTalk Business network, although the ISPs domestic division has so far been unable to clarify whether the same exact principal is applied to its residential service. The Plus product does slow P2P and other “non-time critical traffic” but it’s not known what business traffic, if any, it prioritises.

The fact that a home solution is effectively being sold on to customers as an upgrade to a business product will no doubt raise a few eyebrows. Mr Homer said, “had I not pursued this matter over the last three days I would have been on a residential package with the free TV, non-prioritised traffic and I expect a higher contention ratio.”

TalkTalks Migration Letter

talktalk business migration letter

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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