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TalkTalk bleeds punters, revenue in Q2

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TalkTalk lost 43,000 subscribers during its second quarter as punters disconnected from the telco - which has been hampered by its poor customer service record.

The company, which in August was slapped with a huge £3m fine by watchdog Ofcom for failing to clean up its billing systems, reported second quarter revenue of £421m compared with £443m in the same period last year.

Broadband sales fell in the quarter to £307m compared with £314m a year earlier. TalkTalk attributed some of that decline to its "reduction in the total customer base". In the first half of 2011 TalkTalk pulled in total revenues of £844m, down nearly 5 per cent over last year's H1 sales of £887m. It reported pre-tax profit of £100m for the six months ended 31 September.

TalkTalk boss Dido Harding claimed customer service at her company was improving.

"We are pleased that we are delivering a better experience for our customers, demonstrated by the continuing reduction in calls into our contact centres and a significant increase in the number of customers' queries being resolved first time," she said. "This reflects our priority to improve customer experience and make our end to end systems and processes both more effective and more efficient."

But the CEO admitted: "There is a lag between these initiatives and improvements in customer numbers, but we are confident that the effects will soon become more apparent."

Meanwhile, the company's controversial website-blocking Homesafe product, launched in May, has been installed by 200,000 customers who have cut off their access to around one million sites so far, the TalkTalk chief cheerfully noted.

Separately, the company echoed a recent Ofcom report by warning that demand for fibre optic products remained low in the UK. TalkTalk said in a statement: "We believe the principle driver of growth in the long run will be IPTV services which require higher bandwidth and therefore expect fibre sales to lag the growth of IPTV."

The company is investing heavily in YouView - a next-generation set-top box jointly owned by Blighty's terrestrial broadcasters. In the past six months TalkTalk spent £2m on the venture.

"In the second half we expect to invest a further £7m in relation to the YouView joint venture and Greystone Telecom Ltd, a small B2B acquisition," said the firm. It bought Greystone last month for an undisclosed sum. ®

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