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TalkTalk: internet hungry customers are forcing us to up our game

Broadband on country lane

Is your ‘unlimited’ internet really unlimited? In this guest post, TalkTalk’s chief technology officer Gary Steen argues that usage caps should be shown the door as our appetite for data goes large.

According to the famous proverb, the only certainties in life are death and taxes.

There’s one more fact to add to that list of dead certs: that our dependence on the internet is going only one way – and that is up.

As our lives become more entwined with the benefits of being connected, our hunger for data – the packets of digital information that are the lifeblood of the internet – is growing by the day.

The amount of it we use, powering everything from movie downloads to music streaming and gaming, has rocketed.

Downloading more than ever

A recent YouGov survey for TalkTalk showed that we now have twice as many connected devices in our homes as we did just five years ago.

Almost half of us think internet access is as important as running water and electricity, while a quarter couldn’t live without broadband at home for even one day.

Among TalkTalk customers, downloads have increased by more than 50% in the past year alone and Ofcom says the average UK household uses 58GB per month – much more than the 10-40GB monthly limit offered with the broadband packages of some major internet providers.

I predict it will be considerably more the next time they report. Especially when more and more people are streaming videos – for example streaming just three episodes of Game of Thrones and some Facebook browsing would take you close to a 10GB limit.

Broadband traffic management

The huge appetite for the internet is great news for providers making millions from customers on capped packages who pay an average £11.30 a month after going over their limits.

As more of our appliances and gadgets connect us to things we need and love, the practice of limiting broadband is outdated, which is why we only offer uncapped broadband packages and why we are investing in ultrafast broadband for the future.

Unlimited broadband, both in terms of capacity and speed, really is the Holy Grail for TalkTalk, with the potential to improve all our lives both in the home and the workplace.

I’m looking forward to a future where our obsession with the flow of data – how much there is and how fast it travels – barely warrant a mention and it’s what we do with the incredible gift of connectivity that generates the most discussion.

This is a guest post by Gary Steen, chief technology officer at TalkTalk. All opinions expressed here are Gary’s own and not necessarily those of Which?

Useful links

Check your broadband needs with Which?’s broadband usage calculator

Speed test your internet connection with Which?’s speed test tool


Why would anyone ever get a broadband package that had usage limits? It’s like buying a television that will work only for a certain number of hours per month. I’ve been using broadband since 2001 from a variety of ISPs, and I’ve never had a usage limit. The concept is absurd.

I was about to say the same thing.

Any ISP that mentions caps is immediately dismissed when looking for a new provider.

Must be why we have never been with TalkTalk.

Surely the provider knows the speed of the user and can multiply this by the average user rate times the no of customers equals the capacity required to provide. ot rocket science which is only a second order differential equation!

This convo seems to be bit of an advert for Talk Talk. Is that right? I suppose since some seem to s**g off so many commercial organisations at at any opportunity we should also accept the points of view they would like to put across.

Indeed. It seems that TalkTalk is announcing that it is rectifying its own deficiency, even though many other ISPs don’t suffer from the deficiency. TalkTalk is hardly leading the way on this.

Hi, when companies do good things it’s nice to give them a chance to share it.

The issue is really around whether unlimited really means unlimited. Do you know if your ISP throttles your broadband speeds if you go over a certain amount? Lots of companies advertise ‘unlimited’ data, but actually slow your speeds (often without your knowledge) when you go over a certain data allowance…

We are, from choice, with John Lewis broadband on a limited tariff (because we don’t download much data or stream video). We can increase our allowance for a small fee. However, if we do exceed the allowance (only once have we done so) our broadband speed dropped substantially. I only found out after contacting JL that this was done deliberately.

Offering download limit and also speed of connection offers choice of reduced price but still have internet. There are some good offers out there (I’ve recently looked and am changing broadband supplier) for those who change over. As it’s now easier to change over people can shop around for best price when their contract expires, as for car insurance, etc. This competition hopefully will get suppliers to offer more generous download limits and speeds at low price for those who have to budget carefully.

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