BT to introduce inflation-busting price rises

BT has said most customers will see bills rise by more than 9% from the end of March as households are squeezed by cost of living pressures.

The telecoms giant said broadband and phone bills will jump by 9.3% following a "dramatic increase" in data usage over the last few years.

Affected customers will pay an extra £3.50 a month on average from 31 March.

But households on certain packages, as well as those claiming benefits, will be exempt.

Surging food prices push inflation to 30-year high
What is the UK's inflation rate and why is the cost of living going up?
Around two years ago, BT changed how it raised bills, saying it would make one increase a year at the end of March of 3.9% plus inflation as measured by the consumer price index to reflect "rising costs to the business".

Inflation is running at a 30 year-high of 5.4%.

'Never popular'
On Thursday, Nick Lane, BT's managing director for consumer customer services, wrote in a blog post: "Price rises are never popular, but are sometimes a necessary part of business, if we're to keep up with the rising costs we face."

Customers' data usage had "increased dramatically" with a 90% increase on broadband usage since 2018, and a 79% increase on mobile phones since 2019.

Working from home, online education and TV streaming has led to more demands on BT's network, he said.

"Unlike most things we buy, like food, electricity or fuel, you don't pay more for using more as our data plans are unlimited, but we need to keep investing in our networks so they can handle this huge increase in demand," he said.

However, customers on BT's at-cost social tariff, BT Home Essentials, will not see a rise in prices, and neither will those on BT Basic.

To qualify for these packages, customers need to be claiming benefits such as Universal Credit.

Customers with just a landline will also not experience an increase.

BT said it will write to customers to tell them about the increases.

Rival Virgin Media said earlier this month that prices will rise for broadband customers from the beginning of March.

Price comparison website Uswitch said this would add £56 per year to bills for millions of customers.

Vulnerable customers, including those on benefits, will not see prices rises, a Virgin Media spokesman said.

Virgin will hike its prices for mobile customers from the beginning of April by 3.9% plus inflation as measured by the retail price index inflation rate for February.

The price hikes from broadband providers will pile more pressure on household finances, with the cost of other utilities also set to increase. Energy customers are facing the prospect of a 50% increase in their gas bills from April.