Broadband price rises: Customers face paying 14% more from March

Millions of Britons face broadband bill increases of up to £95 a year as internet firms prepare to hike bills from late March.

Typical broadband deals range in price from £22.99 to £55 a month, meaning many homes will pay £3.31 to £7.92 extra a month for their internet. That adds up to between £39.72 and £95.04 a year.

These increases are due to a quirk of broadband bills, many of which can be increased in price mid-contract. 

The big yearly increase happens in either March or April, and most providers base their price hikes on December inflation figures.

Going up: Price hikes for internet bills are due to take place from late March going into early April for millions of customers

Those figures are out today. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) level of inflation was 10.5 per cent in December, down from 10.7 per cent in November, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The release of the inflation figures means broadband firms have fired the starting gun on price increases for their customers.

Here is how the major broadband firms will be setting prices this year.

BT – up to 14.4 per cent increases

There are two possible price rises for BT broadband customers.

If you will be out of contract before March 31 this year, or signed up after August 31, 2020, BT will increase prices by 14.4 per cent – that’s 10.5 per cent inflation plus 3.9 per cent on top. Most BT customers will see this increase on yearly bills from March 31.

If you will be in contract after March 31 this year, the increase is 10.5 per cent, also from March 31.

A BT Consumer spokesperson said: ‘With the December 2022 CPI rate now announced, we can confirm our price change will be going ahead on 31st March. We expect the average customer will see their price rise around £1 per week. This price rise doesn’t apply to all our customers.’ 

‘We hate price hikes’, broadband firms say 

  • Strange as it might sound, many broadband firms object to the level of the planned 2023 price rises. This is because some of the price hikes are outside their control. 
  • Most broadband firms pay yearly fees to BT-owned Openreach for the fibre cables needed to supply broadband to consumers. 
  • Openreach is allowed to put its rates to broadband firms up every year by the level of inflation – which it has done for 2023. Broadband firms argue that they have to pass that cost on to consumers – though they do add a profit margin of around 4 per cent too.
  • This Is Money understands at several broadband firms are pressuring Ofcom to change its rules so that future price rises can be limited.

EE – up to 14.4 per cent increase

EE has been part of BT since 2016, and broadband customers of both firms see the same price increases of inflation plus 3.9 per cent.

The 14.4 per cent rise is due to kick in from March 31.

Plusnet – up to 14.4 per cent increase

Customers of Plusnet will see 14.4 per cent increases in their bills this year, from March 31.

TalkTalk – up to 14.2 per cent increase

Broadband customers of TalkTalk will see price rises of 10.5 per cent plus 3.7 per cent from April 1.

TalkTalk called for the communications regulator, Ofcom, to take action to limit bills.  

A spokesperson said: ‘This regulated CPI-linked price rise is preventable. There is still time for Ofcom to act and reduce the wholesale price increases that lead to these price rises. These are exceptional circumstances, and families and businesses across the UK need the regulator to act.’

Sky – undecided

A Sky spokesperson said: ‘We haven’t announced anything this year yet, but we inform customers 30 days before any potential increase.’

Sky’s price rises are up to the firm and are not based on inflation levels.

Virgin Media – undecided

Virgin Media has not yet unveiled any 2023 price rises for its customers. However, last year the broadband firm put up rates by £56 a year for the average customer. Unlike many of its rivals, Virgin does not base price rises on inflation.

Vodafone – undecided

Vodafone has also not laid out its plans for price hikes this year. But in 2022 the company put up its rates by CPI plus 3.9 per cent.

How to get a good broadband deal

But what a ‘good deal’ looks like for you depends on what you need when it comes to your internet. 

If you have a tight budget, price will come before broadband speed, but for many, including regular home workers, paying slightly more for faster internet might be more of a priority.

 Five cheapest broadband deals
Provider  Package  Price per month Contract length in months  Speed  Set-up fee 
POP Telecom Superfast Fibre Advanced  £22.99  18  38 MB/S  £9.99 
Plusnet  Full Fibre 74  £23.99  24  74 MB/S  £0 
Vodafone  Full Fibre 100  £25  24  100 MB/S  £0 
Virgin Media  M125 Ultrafast Fibre  £26  18  132 MB/S  £0 
TalkTalk  Unlimited Full Fibre 65  £27  18  77 MB/S  £0 
Source: Uswitch 

However, not all broadband deals are increasing in value, as many little-known ‘social tariff deals will be frozen in price. These deals are not open to all, and are mostly restricted to those on benefits, lower incomes or the elderly.

>> Worried about broadband costs? Millions of cash-strapped pensioners can slash their bills this winter by asking for a ‘social tariff’ 

A social tariff is a cheap broadband deal only available to struggling households. These cheap deals exist because since 2020 industry regulator Ofcom has demanded that providers give low-cost options to the most hard-up customers.

Most of these deals require that you are on benefits to qualify.

It is well worth checking if you do qualify, as Ofcom says only 3 per cent of eligible households have a cheaper social tariff. Last September Ofcom said: ‘That leaves 97 per cent missing out on average annual savings of around £144 per year.’

Another perk of social tariffs is there are no exit fees for leaving them before your term ends.

Five cheapest social tariffs 
Provider  Package  Price per month  Contract length in months  Speed  Set-up fee 
EE  Basics  £12 12  25 MB/S  £0
Vodafone  Essentials Broadband  £12  12  38 MB/S  £0 
Virgin Media Essential Broadband  £12.50 Monthly rolling 15 MB/S  £0 
KCOM  Full Fibre Flex  £14.99  Monthly rolling 30 MB/S  £0 
Lightning Fibre  Social Tariff  £14.99  Monthly rolling  50 MB/S  £0 
Source: Ofcom