TalkTalk Targets Operator Partners As It Plots Mobile Exit

TalkTalk scales back mobile ambitions and wants to sell SIM cards from other operators instead

TalkTalk is holding talks with mobile operators about a partnership that would allow it to move some of its customers off its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

Under former CEO Dido Harding, TalkTalk has branched out into quad-play packages of broadband, landline, mobile and television services, but her replacement Tristia Harrison and Chairman Charles Dunstone have expressed a desire to return to its challenger roots.

Earlier this year, the company told investors it would prioritise fixed infrastructure and customer services over everything else – including mobile.


TalkTalk Mobile

The company first offered mobile services back in 2010 with an MVNO agreement with Vodafone, and now has almost one million subscribers. This is a significant increase from 2014 when it had 350,000 mobile customers.

In 2014, TalkTalk replaced Vodafone with O2 and planned a ‘deep MVNO’ that would allow it to offload traffic from the macro network to a Wi-Fi network powered by customers’ home routers.

But now it has scaled back these ambitions. The FT claims TalkTalk has held talks with Vodafone, O2 and Virgin Media about the possibility of selling their SIM cards alongside TalkTalk broadband services at a discounted rate.

It is claimed TalkTalk hopes to encourage as many customers as possible to move from the MVNO to another network.

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“We remain committed to offering our customers a compelling value for money mobile proposition, and following our announcement at our full year results in May we are in advanced discussions with a number of potential partners, including O2, to agree a low touch, retail arrangement that will enable us to continue to offer a competitive service to all our broadband customers,” a spokesperson, told Silicon.

Harding’s position at TalkTalk had been under significant scrutiny following a catastrophic cyber attack in 2015 which cost the company more than £60 million in lost revenue and exceptional costs. More than 95,000 customers left the firm as a result and details of 100,000 customers were stolen.

The ICO slapped TalkTalk with a £400,000 fine for its negligence in failing to ensure there was sufficient protection in place, but Harding was praised for her decision to publicise the attack at an early stage and its crisis management.

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