From the Chairman (June 2020)
The environment has significantly changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with lasting consequences for Britain as a country, an economy and a society.
TalkTalk has been proud to play our vital role as a provider of critical national infrastructure at a time when Britain’s need for affordable, fast and reliable connectivity is greater than ever before.
Three years ago we reset TalkTalk on a path to simplification and prioritisation, and this has delivered a stronger business. Our focus on fixed connectivity at the best value has been met with growing demand for higher bandwidth products and a stable customer base.
Britain’s journey to Full Fibre also remains an essential priority for the Government and with the ever-increasing demand, the imperative to meet the rollout target of 2025 is front of many minds. As part of the significant efforts to rebuild the economy in the wake of the current crisis, the drive to build this major digital infrastructure could serve as a key job creator and catalyst for that much needed growth.
This year, TalkTalk has shown that this journey to Fibre is welcomed by customers – they want faster, more reliable connections, and this can be seen in our results. We now have nearly 60% of our total base – across Consumer and TalkTalk Business – taking a Fibre product. This includes those customers moving from old Copper connections to Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), as well as those choosing Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) networks, where this is available. Our long term objective remains to transition all customers to FTTP networks as quickly as possible.
A significant development in March was the completion of the sale of our Fibre Assets Business to CityFibre for £206m – around three times the value invested. This was also underpinned by a long term competitive wholesale agreement for TalkTalk customers in CityFibre areas. In addition, we are in talks with Openreach regarding a potential national FTTP agreement. This is a path we will also seek to follow with other altnets where it is possible to do so. These agreements will enable us to offer next generation, Full Fibre connectivity to customers at an affordable price.
Our focus on Fibre has led to the creation of our ‘Fibre for Everyone’ programme. This cross-Group initiative will consume wholesale FTTP from a range of network operators to provide future-proof connectivity to homes and businesses across the UK.
Lastly, we have now concluded our move to Salford, with our place in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse fully established. While colleagues may have been spending less time in the office in recent weeks, the TalkTalk spirit is very much in evidence and as strong as ever.
Those colleagues remain the strongest asset this business has, and this year in particular, following an enormous amount of hard work under difficult circumstances, they have made me prouder than ever to be their Chairman.