BT announce broadband and landline price rises

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BT have revealed that they are to increase the price of their broadband, landline and television services from April 2nd, requiring customers to pay anything from 49p to £3.50 more each month.

The biggest rise will be reserved for BT TV customers, who from August - the start of the new football season - will have to start paying £3.50 a month for BT Sport.

Meanwhile, Anytime customers will pay an extra 49p per month for their landlines from April, while BT broadband customers will be asked to hand over an extra £2 or £2.50 a month, depending on whether they have BT Infinity or not.

As ever, BT explain the hike in terms of needing to fund an "improved service", although it could be noted in response to this that they also need to fund various other ventures, such as their recent commitment to realise the universal service obligation (USO) without additional public funding.

Politics and prices

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In October, their Managing Director of Strategy, Sean Williams, told the House of Commons Public Bill Committee that BT would ensure that the remaining 9-10% of the UK without at least a 10Mb broadband connection would have one by 2020.

He said they'd do this all without additional public funding, which is quite the promise considering that, in December, Ofcom published their final report [PDF] on the USO, estimating that the cost of achieving it would range from £1.1 billion to £2 billion.

And since BT's revenue for 2016 was £5.1 billion [PDF], it's clear that the cost of achieving the USO by 2020 isn't something that BT can sniff at.

Yet BT want to be seen realising the USO, since it helps to protect them against calls for their relationship with Openreach to go beyond legal separation.

As such, they need to pay for it with their own money, and while no direct link can be established between network rollouts and retail prices, BT and Openreach's funding all ultimately comes from the same single pot.

Sport

This could potentially go some way to explaining the price increase BT have just introduced for April, or at least go some way to predicting future price increases.

As for these rises, broadband will cost £2 more a month for BT's customers, or £2.50 more a month for customers with BT Infinity.

Added to this, Anytime customers will have to pay an extra 49p, while those with BT TV will be paying an additional £3.50 for BT Sport.

Once again, the latter price increase is a result of BT's overarching desire for world domination, which as of late has seen it compete doggedly with Sky for the rights to broadcast football and other sports.

Rivals

Yet to be fair to the UK's biggest broadband provider, other ISPs have also introduced their own price hikes recently.

More interestingly, most have done this by raising the price of their line rental, even though the Advertising Standards Authority ruled in October that broadband must now be advertised at a single, combined price.

From March 1st, for instance, it was discovered via the small print of news ads that Sky's broadband and phone customers will be asked to pay more than the £17.40 a month they currently pay for their line rental.

It's not yet known by how much this will increase, but it will probably be to £18.99 [update, SC: this has now been confirmed by Sky], given that this is what BT currently charge for their landline, and will continue to charge after April.

Similarly, in November, Virgin Media announced their third price rise of the year for their phone, broadband and TV services. Their line rental increase by £1.01 to £19 a month, while their broadband-only packages increased by £2.99 to anything from £33.24 to £46.24 a month.

It therefore seems that BT are in good company, not least because their latest rise is the second in 12 months. The previous one - announced last April - took effect in July, when the line rental reached its current rate of £18.99 a month.

Summary of changes
  • Broadband up by £2
  • Infinity up by £2.50
  • BT TV customers to start paying £3.50 for BT Sport (from next season)
  • Anytime calls up 49p, to £8.99 a month
  • Line Rental frozen at £18.99
  • BT TV price freeze and new, improved YouView
  • BT Basic frozen at £5.10 for next three years and BT Basic + Broadband frozen at £9.95
  • Speed boost, free Smart Hub or switch to Unlimited offers for every broadband customer
  • Advanced plans for automatic compensation if we fail on service

Improvements

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Of course, they're defending the rise, explaining that it's necessary to continue improving the service their customers all know and love.

Commenting on the increases, the chief executive of BT Consumer, John Petter, said, "Customers will get a better package and improved service from us this year in exchange for paying a little more".

Hopefully, his promise will be proved true, since BT still remain the worst-rated broadband provider in terms of how they deal with customer complaints.

Still, if customers aren't happy about the price hike, they can exit their contract with BT without incurring any exit fee, provided they do so within 30 days of being informed of the increase by BT.

And it's precisely in contacting BT and mentioning their desire to leave their contract that customers may find the provider willing to give a little ground on their price rises, since the alternative is to lose a customer completely.