TalkTalk on the up, up

A combination of strong fiber growth and cost savings helped TalkTalk, a UK broadband provider, post a fairly robust set of results for fiscal 2020 (ended March 31).

Fiber net adds, at 605,000, represented an impressive 34% year-on-year jump. As of March 31, TalkTalk's fiber subscriber base was just shy of 2.4 million.

And, on a like-for-like basis, operating costs were down £79 million (US$100 million) year-on-year. "Headline" EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) increased by 9.7%, to £260 million ($330 million).

Helping to reduce operational costs and boost EBITDA was the relocation of TalkTalk's head office from London to Salford (near Manchester).

A greater proportion of fiber customers in the subscriber base was another upside. Because of the increase in more reliable fiber connections, TalkTalk said there were fewer faults and calls to contact centers.

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk's chief executive, also flagged a "combination of regulatory and commercial discounts" from Openreach, BT's infrastructure arm, as helpful in making fiber more profitable.

There were some drags on overall turnover, which was down £26 million ($33 million), to £1.52 billion ($1.92 billion).

One of the top-line headwinds was a decline in voice revenue. Another was an acceleration of TalkTalk's strategy of re-contracting its remaining higher ARPU legacy copper customers onto a fixed low-price plan "ahead of regulatory and industry commitments on out of contract pricing."

TalkTalk is not giving formal full-year guidance for fiscal 2021, but Harrison nonetheless anticipated headline EBITDA would be "stable," year-on-year, even though that includes a £15 million ($19 million) provision for the impact of COVID-19.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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