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Customers rushing for 'free' broadband
[June 07, 2006]

Customers rushing for 'free' broadband

(Daily Post (Liverpool) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)WARRINGTON-based fixed line telecoms provider Talk Talk yesterday said it had signed 340,000 customers to its "free" broadband service.

Talk Talk, which is a division of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse, announced in April that it was offering free broadband to customers signing up to its pounds 9.99 bundle of UK and international calls.

The firm, which employs around 500 people at its Birchwood site, said it had connected more customers to the service in the first eight weeks since launch than it had planned to do in the first four months.

Reporting a 36% increase in pre-tax profits and 29% growth in revenues for the year to April 1, chief executive Charles Dunstone said future prospects for the firm were good.

"Our aim was to change the UK broadband market forever, and there is no doubt that we are well on our way to achieving this," he said.

Mr Dunstone has written in his blog on the Carphone Warehouse website about his "immense frustration'" over the company's difficulty in coping with the 20,000 calls it has been taking every day from people inquiring about the service.

The company and industry analysts had anticipated around 170,000 new customers would sign up for the service.

Yesterday, Mr Dunstone remained upbeat and said he was committed to making Talk Talk "more of a household name than it is today and the number one alternative residential telephone company to BT".

He thanked customers for patience and understanding "as we have strained to cope with the calls and emails".

Until now, Carphone has been hampered by having to resell BT's wholesale broadband product. But it is investing pounds 60m to install its own broadband equipment in 1,000 BT exchanges - a process known as loop unbundling.

Carphone said it was on track to start the migration to unbundled lines in July. This will allow it to reach 70% of the population.

Carphone confirmed that customers signing up today would have to wait until August to be connected but said people are prepared to wait for a service that is free.

All customers are given a go-live date when they sign on, which is generally two to three months later but all are getting connected before the anticipated date, a spokesman said.

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