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, 35Mbps & 63Mbps|
|Broadband||Standard & fibre|
|Contract length||24 months|
|Prices from||£19.99 per month|
iTalk Telecom offers a standard broadband package and two fibre options – and all three promise speeds roughly the same as those offered by pretty much every other UK broadband provider, except for Virgin Media.
Unlimited Broadband, iTalk Telecom’s standard package, is described as perfect for the “casual internet user on a budget”. It offers average speeds of 10Mbps – more than enough to do the basics online including internet banking, shopping and watching Netflix.
The next package, Unlimited Fibre, offers average speeds of 35Mbps and is, according to iTalk Telecom, suitable for “binge-watchers, gamers and the internet pro”. If indeed your household is regularly streaming on more than one device at the same time, or if there’s an online gamer among you, then you’d probably be better off with a fibre connection, which tends to be more reliable as well as faster.
The top average speed offered by iTalk Telecom is 63Mbps and comes courtesy of the Unlimited Super Fast package. This is a few megabits-per-second slower than the top speeds offered by Sky, BT etc but still fast enough to cope with the online needs of a bigger household. Besides, advertised speeds are only ever a rough guide – you can check on the provider’s website for a better idea of the speeds you can expect where you live.
Pleasingly, there’s no usage limit on any of these packages so you can download to your heart’s content. This is fairly standard now across the industry, but always good to know.
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.
Because iTalk Telecom runs on the same network as most other broadband providers you won’t have to make the awkward call to your old provider to tell them you’re leaving – iTalk Telecom is required by Ofcom to do this on your behalf.
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.
Another benefit to switching between different broadband providers on the same network is that there shouldn’t be any disruption to your service. If your phone line is active (it’s used to deliver your broadband connection, so it probably is), then the switch can usually be done remotely.
All of iTalk Telecom’s broadband packages come with a free router worth £99. Judging by forums, this appears to be a 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.
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 8.9 out of 10 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 Telecom’s offer is a pretty simple and straightforward one, with packages that should suit most households, although there isn’t much to make it stand out from the crowd other than its 24-month fixed price promise.
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.