Broadband providers have snuck through price hikes of up to 22% while tweaking internet tariffs as part of the regulator’s rules to make them “fairer and more transparent”.
Since 31 October, broadband companies have had to advertise broadband rates inclusive of line rental and other costs to make it easier for consumers to compare the actual price they will pay.
But research into broadband costs by specialist comparison site BroadbandGenie.co.uk, shows that several of the largest broadband companies have jacked up the cost of new broadband deals, with annual costs rising by 8.9% across some of the most popular deals, adding about £30 to the annual bill.
Sky was found to be the worst offender, pushing up prices by over a fifth (22% - the equivalent of £60 on average) to £279 per year.
BT and Virgin Media meanwhile, had the smallest price hikes, increasing tariffs by 3.3% and 3% respectively, though their deals remain the most expensive overall. BT’s tariff is now £310 per year, while Virgin’s is a shade off £400 per year.
|Provider||Sep-16||31 Oct 2016||% increase|
Notes: Prices detailed include broadband, line rental, and any upfront installation costs.
Rob Hilborn, spokesperson for Broadband Genie, says: “The Advertising Standards Agency’s move to clamp down on broadband pricing is a good one for consumers. Not only will the actual running costs be clearer, you’ll have a better idea of how much a package will set you back after discounts or the initial contract term. Unfortunately amongst all the changes being made, some providers have seen this as an opportunity to sneak a few price increases in.
“As always, it's important consumers do their research and shop around before committing to anything to ensure they get the best deal possible. It's also important for existing customers to keep an eye on their broadband bill over the next few months as it's quite possible we may see price increases here soon too.”
What do the broadband companies say?
A spokesperson for TalkTalk says its move to inclusive pricing was not connected to its recent price changes. She adds half of their customers would pay less by switching to one of the new fixed tariffs, and all customers would benefit from the longer 18-month fixed rate period.
A spokesperson for Sky says: “We did have a change in offer at the time we changed our advertising in line with the ASA’s guidelines. This was a free Broadband Unlimited offer up until the 27th October and then from 28th October Broadband Unlimited was £5 per month.”
A spokesperson for Plusnet denied it had change the price of its 12-month broadband contract between September and October, saying the changes are “simply reflective of all-inclusive broadband and line rental pricing.”
However, we found this statement hard to reconcile with Broadband Genie’s research, which was inclusive of line rental, as line rental charges are usually in the region of £200 per year, and Broadband Genie reported a £30 annual price hike.