If you pay for a broadband or mobile phone bill in the UK, you might have noticed that your provider is increasing your monthly price mid-contract In March or April 2023. And if you haven’t, it’s worth checking to see if you have a message from your provider about your bill.
Because the inflation rate is so high right now (CPI is 10.5% as of January 2023), broadband and mobile prices are increasing by up to 14.4% — a very unwelcome price hike during a cost of living crisis.
Many broadband and mobile providers hike their prices each year to combat the inflation rate and rising business costs. Surprisingly, they can even do this if you’ve agreed to a fixed monthly direct debit for your contract period. But is that allowed, even at astronomical rates of 14%? And can you leave your contract early if so?
Read on to find out which providers put their prices up during your contract term, and whether you can cancel or switch if your provider increases yours.
Mid-contract price rises are when a provider hikes your monthly broadband or mobile phone bill during your contract term.
Usually, a fixed contract for a service means that you’ve agreed to pay a certain amount each month until your contract ends. This works both ways — your provider agrees to charge you that same amount each month, and you agree to pay that amount on an agreed date.
However, when you sign up to a broadband or mobile phone contract, you need to agree to a set of terms and conditions (T&Cs) that the provider sets before you use its services.
These T&Cs cover a wide range of things, and once again, work both ways. For example, your broadband provider may agree to provide you with a minimum internet speed, or you might commit to not using your residential broadband connection as Wi-Fi for your business customers.
Some broadband and mobile providers include in their T&Cs that they can increase your monthly bill by a certain amount. This is often to adjust to the rate of inflation, but many also include an additional percentage increase to adjust for rising business costs.
Inflation affects businesses too, and upgrading to better, faster technologies is a costly expense. So providers often prefer to make some of that money back by putting annual price rises in their terms.
You don’t have to accept these terms, but you won’t be able to legally sign up for a provider that includes these charges if so. Instead, you’ll either have to find a provider that doesn’t include a price rise, or commit yourself to a price increase based on what the next January's inflation rate will be.
If you continue to sign up, you will have officially accepted the T&Cs and have therefore committed to paying that increased amount when it’s charged. This might seem unfair, given that these terms are often hidden away among a lot of text that most people never read. So if you’re concerned about this before joining a new provider, you should make sure you specifically search for any mention of it in the T&Cs.
Broadband and mobile providers tend to make their price rises effective around March and April each year, but they usually announce them several weeks beforehand.
For 2023, you should start expecting to hear about any potential price increase of your broadband package from January.
If your contract is coming to an end, or even if your contract ends in a few months' time, it could well work out better to switch to a cheaper broadband deal now. You'll likely have to pay a certain amount in exit fees, but if the monthly price of your next deal is low enough, you might end up paying less overall.
There are lots of offers out there for a very reasonably monthly price - just make sure to avoid packages that are too slow for your household' needs.
With the current inflation rate at its highest point in around three decades, broadband and mobile customers are due some very expensive price hikes this year. Given that some providers add an extra 3-4% to the inflation rate, this means you might see as much as 15% added to your bills in 2023.
Find out below how much your provider could be increasing your prices by this year.
|Broadband provider||Price rise||Option to cancel|
|BT||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Plusnet||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|EE Broadband||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Vodafone||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|TalkTalk||CPI rate + 3.7%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Shell Energy Broadband||CPI rate + 3%||Some customers can cancel - check letter from provider|
|Community Fibre||CPI rate + 2.9% (from April 2023)||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Sky||No set price rises||Free to cancel contract or switch provider|
|Virgin Media||No set price rises||Free to cancel contract or switch provider|
|NOW Broadband||No set price rises||Free to cancel contract or switch provider|
|Mobile network||Price rise||Option to cancel|
|EE||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Talkmobile||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Vodafone||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|BT Mobile||CPI rate + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|O2||RPI + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Virgin Mobile||RPI + 3.9%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|iD Mobile||RPI rate||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Three||4.5%||Unable to cancel for free - included in contract T&Cs|
|Tesco Mobile||No set price rises||Free to cancel contract or switch network|
|Sky Mobile||No set price rises||Free to cancel contract or switch network|
|VOXI||No set price rises||Free to cancel contract or switch network|
The CPI rate of inflation in January 2023 was announced to be 10.5%, which means that prices could increase by a shocking rate of almost 15% this year, when factoring in the additional yearly increase that many providers have in their T&Cs.
Taking the 14.4% increase rate that providers like BT, Plusnet, Vodafone and EE are expected to incur, this could increase your costs by the following amounts:
|Current monthly cost||Increase amount (10.5% + 3.9%)||Annual extra cost|
Most of the major broadband providers announced price increases in 2022. Here's some more information on how the price increase usually works for each of them.
After facing growing pressure from customers, Ofcom set out new rules for broadband, mobile and pay-TV providers to display more clearly the price rises they should expect.
Beforehand, price rises would often be hidden in the terms & conditions, which means they'd be easy to miss among all the other information included. Now, providers must display a short, simple and clear summary of all the contract details before you purchase the service.
This means that you can review all the terms of your service, such as the contract length, broadband speed and monthly price, all in one place before providing your bank details.
But just as importantly, it also makes clear whether the provider will increase your prices mid-contract, and by what rate. For example, many providers have a minimum price increase of around 3%, plus whatever the rate of inflation is at the beginning of that year. So make sure to keep this in mind when you're signing up for a new broadband, mobile or TV contract.
However, this still means that providers can't offer a specific amount, in pounds and pence, of what they're expected to charge you from the next price increase.
Ideally, providers would no longer attach their price increases to the rate of inflation, because as we have seen in recent times, it's very hard to predict how high it will be in a whole year. So the hope is for price increases to be uncoupled from these rates in the future. But in the meantime, make sure to keep track of the CPI and RPI inflation rates to get a getter idea of how much your prices might increase by.
If you're on Universal Credit or receiving government financial support, these broadband providers offer social tariffs to ease the pressure on your bills.Learn more
Looking for ways to save money on your monthly bills? Here's how you can reduce what you spend on your broadband.Learn more