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ISP TalkTalk Business Migrates UK SMEs to Residential Broadband Package

Monday, February 25th, 2013 (1:10 am) - Score 4,330

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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. DanielM says:

    Typical talktalk that’s all i can say…

  2. Kyle says:

    Just goes to show that the believe their ‘one size fits all’ is a decent proposition. Why on earth any business intent on making money would use this company is utterly beyond me.

    This just goes to show that you gets what you pays for!

  3. Surely if your a small business you’ve purposely purchased a typically more expensive business service not just because of quality but also for accounting purposes.

    Can this still be classed as a business expense if its a residential service? I think that’ll annoy a lot of customers if its not the case…

  4. Also do they still offering the OpenReach care levels or do they just whack everyone on standard… again a big point if its not an optional extra.

  5. Steve Homer says:

    TT are the only non BT (LLU) option in the village. I took a dedicated TT phone line (no voice package) and the business broadband package to try and get business grade service.

    What I have had for four years works well and the technical support at exchange level has been good when problems arise (BT outreach) – I do wonder what happens if I am in a telephone support queue behind someone moaning about youview TV not downloading X Factor !

  6. David Jones says:

    I heard that they are moving the micro businesses and sole traders that were purchased through Tiscali that “behave” like consumers

  7. Matt Smith says:

    I just phoned them and asked where this left my static IP address. They immediately took me out of migration to residential. Why they didn’t figure this out themselves I don’t know. I need a static IP to run my business.

    At least they are letting me stay now I’ve queried it.

    1. Geza Turi says:

      Same here. I didn’t picked up on the letters. I got moved to TalkTalk residential. For some reason I still have the same IP (but now it’s not fixed so they say which I need :).

      The only reason I noticed because my net now is down to 0.5M at the evenings. And about 1.5M during the day. Normally I would be getting 4-5M. I’m on the phone the try and get it sorted and move me back to Business. Because of course residential they don’t offer fixed ip.

  8. Moggy says:

    Since the change my connection has been terrible. Spent many days talking to tech support. Business tech support had spent ages getting my line stable however as soon as it moved to residential it has all gone bad. The auto profiling tools have kicked in and I’m getting told that I will now only get a 1meg reliable connection rather than 2.5.

    Residential tech support have said that they are unaware of these changes and don’t know why I would have selected to move from business. Customer service is at an all time low.

  9. IHateTalkTalk says:

    From extended conversations with TalkTalk, this mass migration goes by the name of “Project COLA”. I hope that whoever came up with and approved this stupid idea now have jobs cleaning toilets with their tongues. We were migrated without being given an opportunity to say “no”, and the effects on us included:

    Our static IP address was taken away from us.

    We lost control over our DSL password: the web-based tool for changing it no longer worked. Even technical support took a couple of days to figure out how to check/change it.

    We lost our IP connection. TalkTalk denied that the migration had anything to do with this because the migration happened several weeks before, but I am not convinced. The loss of connection happened on the first router restart after the migration.

    Neither TalkTalk business nor TalkTalk residential had complete information on our account and services. This meant that we got bounced between the two and progress on problem resolution was grindingly slow.

    Someone from TalkTalk business actually told us that we were “neither residential nor business but something in between”.

    The problems are still ongoing: the total time for getting our normal connection back is likely to be about two weeks, and this was for a broadband-only service with no extras. I dread to think what would happen to a business that was using this service for things like e-mail.

  10. 21Twinkle says:

    I have had nothing but trouble from my dealings with TTB – Ever since Opal took over the excellent Nildram (who offered true personal service) and were themselves taken over by TTB – Billing is appalling, Admin almost as bad, Support “needs support” – how TTB survives is beyond me…..

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