Broadband customers face rising bills of up to 14%, warns Which? | Telecommunications industry

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Broadband bills could soar to £113 next year if a number of the UK’s biggest telecoms companies press ahead with anti-inflationary price increases next spring, according to the industry watchdog. consumers Which?

Many of the country’s major internet service providers – including the biggest player BT, as well as TalkTalk, EE, Plusnet and Vodafone – use a mechanism to increase the cost of bills each year based on the rate of inflation measured by the consumer price index (CPI) in January, plus 3.9%.

The Bank of England predicts inflation of just under 10% for January, meaning millions of broadband customers will face a 14% rise in their mid-term bills.

The latest broadband survey from Which? revealed that a typical BT customer faces the biggest potential increase of £113 from what they paid in January this year.

Customers of Plusnet, also owned by BT, will face the smallest hike of £87.15 among the five telecoms companies using the mechanism studied by Which?

Given that telecoms companies suffered anti-inflationary hikes of around 10% in April, by next spring their customers will have seen their bills rise by £120 to £156 in just two years.

“It is unacceptable that many broadband customers are facing price hikes during an unrelenting cost of living crisis,” said Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which? “Customers should be allowed to terminate their contract without penalty if prices are increased mid-contract, whether or not such increases qualify as ‘transparent’.”

BT, which attributed the majority of sales growth between April and June to bill increases of nearly 10% this year, has already said it will “stay the course” next year as its own costs would also increase. It is estimated that telecoms companies are in line for a windfall of almost £2bn next year using the so-called ‘inflation plus’ mechanism.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom, which said a record 8 million homes have already struggled to pay their telecoms bills, told internet companies to “think hard” about pursuing big hikes “when their clients’ finances are under such pressure”.

Earlier this week, Labor said it would drop the use of the mechanism and mid-contract price hikes if the party came to power.

Providers such as Hyperoptic, Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet are keeping customer prices fixed for the duration of their contract, while KCOM has decided to roll back mid-contract increases this year.

Sky and Virgin Media do not use the inflation-linked mechanism, instead instituting price increases but allowing customers to switch providers without penalty if they choose to leave.

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