TalkTalk sees a surge in customers

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TalkTalk cheered investors yesterday as it unveiled its best customer growth in two years in a sign the broadband and television firm was closer to putting its troubled past behind it.

The company was last year hit with a £3m fine for shoddy service and was forced to pay out £2.5m to customers who were billed despite cancelling their packages.

But it revealed a net loss of 4,000 customers in the second quarter, compared to a net loss of 19,000 in the first quarter.

The improvement was driven by a 66,000 surge in customers on its more profitable fully unbundled network – lines using TalkTalk’s own equipment in the local telephone exchange, which bypass BT.

Meanwhile, TalkTalk revealed a 4 per cent rise in gross profit to £453m in the six months to September 30, which does not include the £289m invested in its television offering.

Pre-tax profits, including TV investment, dipped 8 per cent to £85m in the period.

TalkTalk previously launched a TalkTalk Plus package, which offers customers a free YouView internet TV set top box, with a 12-month subscription to LOVEFiLM Instant and access to pay channels such as Sky Sports.

The group said it had started connecting customers at the end of September and has seen good demand through October with an installed base of 29,000 and connections running at 1,000 a day.

The launch was seen as a bid to take on rivals BT and Virgin Media, which have bolstered their services.