More competition is needed says TalkTalk

Increased competition “drives investment” says chief executive.

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By :  ,  Financial Analyst

There needs to be more competition and a "level playing field" in the UK's internet services industry. That's according to Dido Harding, chief executive at TalkTalk.

Speaking out about various merger deals in the industry, Ms Harding believes there need to be more companies offering internet services.

"We are looking to various competition authorities reviewing the BT/EE merger, the Three/O2 merger and the whole industry. I do think there need to be more players on the market," she said.

Ms Harding told the BBC: "I've been very public in saying that Openreach should be separated out of BT Group." She believes that increased competition would drive investment, and that regulators need to make sure that's the case.

Positive results for TalkTalk

In the company's recent financial results, TalkTalk reported a 3.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profit, bringing the number to £32 million for the year to the end of March.

TalkTalk also saw annual revenue rise 3.9 per cent to nearly £1.8 billion – in response, the company raised its revenue growth target for 2017 to five per cent.

In addition, tax credits associated with losses from the previous year pushed the company's post-tax profit to £72 million.

While profits have increased, the company also points out that costs have also increased – particularly since downloading over the network has doubled in the last year.

"People are downloading 40 to 50 per cent more data on our network than they were a year ago," Ms Harding explained.

Improving services

Ms Harding said that TalkTalk is now testing new high-speed internet cables in York. 

"I want to live in a country where in a decade's time, we all have unlimited broadband coming into our homes – where broadband becomes like electricity," she explains.

She also points out that TalkTalk's reputation for poor customer service might be fading. In a recent Ofcom publication, which included nine months' worth of customer service results, "TalkTalk was not the most complained about" in any of the relevant product categories. Ms Harding says this is the first time that has ever happened – and indicates the company will continue to try to improve.

"It's not the end of the journey, and there's lots more we can do, but we're getting there," she said.

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