italk Telecom broadband review 2024
By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, January 16th 2024
It may not be the biggest name in the broadband market but Hove-based iTalk Telecom has been around for more than a decade and prides itself on offering UK-based support to its broadband and phone customers. You won't find anything out of the ordinary with iTalk, but it's definitely going to be worth finding out about its solid-enough offering.
So if you’re looking beyond the likes of BT, Sky and Virgin Media in your search for a new broadband deal, what does iTalk Telecom have to offer?
|Average download speed
|10Mbps, 40Mbps, 38Mbps, 63Mbps, 80Mbps, 220Mbps
|Standard, fibre and full fibre
|£28.99 per month
iTalk Telecom offers a standard broadband package, two fibre options, and two three full fibre options – its standard and fibre speeds are roughly the same as those offered by pretty much every other UK broadband provider, except for Virgin Media. iTalk Broadband veers off however by offering full fibre packages of 50Mbps, 100Mbps and 250Mbps in addition, making its overall offering somewhat confusing at first glance.
Whether you can get those full fibre packages will depend on where you live, with around one in four households able to get it. The confusing part is iTalk only offers speeds up to 250Mbps where almost all other providers that offer full fibre offer up to 900Mbps or greater. We certainly understand narrowing the range of speeds available both to keep things straightforward and and to offer its broadband more cheaply, but iTalk appears to have achieved neither.
All iTalkTelecom contracts are for 24 months as standard, but the provider does primise no price rises across the length of that contract, which although long, does make them rather more attractive.
Simply Broadband is iTalk Telecom’s standard package. It is described as perfect for the 'casual internet user on a budget'. It offers average download speeds of 10Mbps with a guaranteed 3Mbps. This is enough to do the basics online including internet banking, shopping and watching Netflix (just about). But we don't believe it's enough for most households, and equally we don't believe £28.99 for speeds this slow is particularly 'budget' compared to ADSL from other providers.
The first of the two standard fibre deals is Fast Fibre, and offers average speeds of 38Mbps and is, according to iTalk Telecom, suitable for 'binge-watchers, gamers and the internet pro'. We say this is the minimum speed anyone should consider in 2024.
The second is 63Mbps and comes courtesy of the Superfast Fibre package. It is easily fast enough to cope with the online needs of a most households. But even this is starting to look a little slow if there are a few avid gamers and streamers in the house.
When it comes to the three full fibre packages: Full Fibre 50, Full Fibre 100, and Full Fibre 250, the latter two offer a speed advantage over the standard fibre packages. But we're not a fan of this sort of naming convention, because the actual speeds of these packages are substantially slower than those numbers, at 40Mbps, 80Mbps and 220Mbps respectively. We strongly feel that's disingenuous and misleading and should be renamed.
iTalk Telecom says it’ll take two or three weeks to get your broadband up and running once you’ve placed your order. You’ll get an email and a text message telling you your activation date.
iTalk doesn’t have its own network or infrastructure, so it relies on your current provider already being connected by BT Openreach. You then switch provider from your current one over to iTalk with no extra work needing to be done in terms of drilling holes in your walls to feed in a new internet box.
The notable exception is Virgin Media – it runs on its own network – so if you’re leaving Virgin you will have to sever the ties yourself.
You’ll be sent your router before your installation date. You don’t pay for the router itself, just for post and packing. You can then simply plug it in and you're off.
All iTalk Telecom’s broadband packages come with a free router worth £99. Judging by forums, this appears to be a fairly basic, single band ZyXEL model with 802.11n wireless capability and space for multiple ethernet cables in case you want to plug your devices into the router directly. Indeed, the low-specification of this router may explain why iTalk doesn't offer full fibre faster than 220Mbps. This router wouldn't be able to handle it.
You will have to pay a £9.95 one-off charge to have the router delivered and it will arrive after your telephone service has been activated but before your broadband is switched on.
As with any provider, the broadband service you receive will depend on a number of things, including how far you live from your nearest exchange or street cabinet and where you position your router.
It also depends on how your phone line is managed both by Openreach, which is responsible for the exchange, the street cabinet and the actual wires in the ground, and iTalk Telecom itself.
Unlike an increasing number of its rivals, iTalk Telecom does engage in a process known as traffic management. This means it gives priority to certain online activities during peak times. In its terms and conditions, iTalk says web browsing and email are given priority over file sharing and streaming, so you may experience buffering on Netflix if you’re watching at the same time as a lot of other folk (peak times tend to be between 4pm and 8pm).
iTalk Telecom has an impressive score of 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot although, as with all telecoms providers, there are negative user reviews out there if you want to find them.
In terms of customer support, iTalk has its own UK-based call centre, while you can also choose to get in touch via email, which isn’t the case for all providers.
There’s always an element of risk in going for a small provider rather than one of the more established players in the market, but often what is missing in terms of brand recognition is often made up for by way of customer service and the personal touch.
iTalk's offering isn't simple, with lots of overlapping speeds that seem pointless to the layperson who may not know they use differing technologies, nor if and how that matters. Its package naming convention is a bit dishonest, with the speeds you get lower than what the names of those packages suggest. And the router offered by iTalk is very basic – the sort you'd expect from a very budget provider and yet its packages are anything but budget, with 220Mbps coming in at a hefty £50 a month at the time of writing compared to, say, £31.99 per month for 264Mbps or the same £50 per month for 1130Mbps both from Virgin Media. iTalk isn't just 'not budget', it's expensive.
While the thought of being tied into a two-year contract will be off-putting to some, there aren’t many providers guaranteeing no price hikes for the length of your contract, so there is that. But beyond that we are really struggling for a reason to recommend iTalk. Speed, budget, quality of equipment, take your pick because it's bottom-rung in most categories.