Providers are hiking up the price of their broadband-only deals to force consumers into signing up to bundled deals, according to a leading comparison site.
New research from Ofcom-accredited Broadbandchoices.co.uk has revealed that the cost of standalone broadband has risen for the first time in five years. Broadband now costs the average household £126.49 a year, up from £114.18 the previous year.
Previously prices have fallen each year since 2007.
Broadbandchoices.co.uk compared the average total first year cost of the 10 cheapest standalone broadband packages from January 2007 through to January 2011.
It found costs have risen by 11%, twice the rate of inflation.
Michael Phillips, product director at Broadbandchoices.co.uk, says it is disappointing to see the cost of stand-alone broadband increase after so many years of broadband providers delivering price cuts to consumers.
"The VAT rise and effects of inflation are taking their toll, but providers are clearly placing a premium on broadband-only deals in their drive to sign up more customers to their bundled packages," he says.
Philips says bundles for broadband, home phone, digital TV and mobile phone services do offer excellent value to consumers but those customers who want a broadband-only deal should not be penalised.
"Broadband has become an essential utility to the majority of households across the UK and if prices continue to rise we may see a worrying downward trend in broadband subscription across the country - denying access to essential information, communication and financial services that many consumers now rely upon to conduct their lives," he adds.