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Consumer broadband groups have criticised BT after the operator announced it will be raising its broadband and voice service prices, as well as starting to charge BT TV customers for its BT Sport service.
The broadband price increases, which will be introduced in April 2017, will see standard asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) broadband rise by £2 a month and its Infinity fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service rise by £2.50 a month. Broadband users will, however, be allowed to upgrade their service without charge.
BT landline customers on the Anytime calling plan will see prices rise 49p to £8.99 a month, while Evening and Weekend plans will go up by 30p to £3.80. Line rental will be frozen at £18.99 a month for customers who only take a landline from BT.
Finally, from the start of the 2017-18 football season, BT TV customers will have to pay £3.50 a month to access the BT Sport service, which was previously available for free, unless customers are taking the Total Entertainment or Entertainment Max products. The basic cost of BT TV will not change.
The charges represent an above-inflation increase of about 6%.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband analyst at comparison service uSwitch, said the latest round of price hikes came barely seven months after the last one.
“In return for these price increases, consumers will quite rightly expect to see their service vastly improved,” he said.
“Today's announcement also comes hot on the heels of Sky’s line rental increase, which will come into effect from 1 March and, in a similar vein to BT, follows a price hike on its TV packages in June 2016.”
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- Surrey County Council is to receive £3.8m to extend a BDUK broadband roll-out through the gain share clauses written into its BT contract.
- The government has announced extra funding for its superfast broadband roll-out, with 600,000 more premises expected to benefit.
- Ofcom’s Connected Nations report highlights improvements in broadband speed and connectivity across the UK, as well as areas that are still ripe for improvement.
BT’s price rises also come hot on the heels of TalkTalk and Virgin Media, which have both raised their prices in the past two months.
Under Ofcom rules, people unhappy about price changes are able to cancel their contracts with their comms service provider within 30 days of being notified.
“Plus, the more people take a stand against price rises and vote with their feet, the more providers are likely to reconsider or delay future increases,” said Taylor-Gibson.
Price hikes are absurd
“This affects every one of BT’s customers to a lesser or greater extent, and is in my opinion completely unjustified, said Dan Howdle,” consumer telecoms expert at Cable.co.uk. “These price hikes are absurd in contrast to current rates of inflation and, quite rightly, I would expect BT customers to be fuming.”
John Petter, BT Consumer chief executive, said customers would get a better package and improved service for a little more money, and pointed out that many would be able to upgrade to faster broadband services, while almost a million would be able to upgrade to unlimited data usage for no extra cost.
“As usual, we’ve taken care of low income customers by freezing the price of BT Basic and capping call costs. We’ve also frozen line rental, which will particularly help customers who only take a traditional phone service from us,” said Petter.
BT pointed out that it is also bringing forward plans for automatic customer compensation if it fails on service, and is ploughing more money into UK-based call centres, more protection against nuisance calls, and faster repairs. It is also adding boxing and the next Ashes test series to BT Sport.