Soaring broadband prices: your rights and how to fight back

Laptop surrounded by pound sign and wifi symbols with arrows facing upwards to denote planned rising broadband prices
Laptop surrounded by pound sign and wifi symbols with arrows facing upwards to denote planned rising broadband prices

Broadband and mobile phone bills will rise by an inflation-busting 7.9pc for millions of customers this spring.

Most operators – including BT, Three, EE and Vodafone – are bringing in another wave of price rises in April, increasing the average annual bill by £27 per year.

Even those mid-contract are not immune to the increases, which are determined by December’s consumer prices index (CPI) inflation figures.

Inflation stands at 4pc but most internet providers add a further 3.9 percentage points to this – taking the overall increase to 7.9pc.

Last year, customers were lumped with price rises of up to 14.4pc, leading to telecoms companies coming under greater scrutiny over contract pricing.

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, is considering banning inflation-linked price hikes but this has not stopped this year’s round of crippling increases.

Which providers are increasing broadband and mobile costs

BT this week said it would scrap its policy of linking price increases to inflation, but stopped short of reigning in a 7.9pc rise this April.

The changes – which will see monthly payments rise by a minimum of £1.50 and £3 for mobile and broadband users respectively each year – will come into effect next year.

EE, Vodafone and Three will each bring in the 7.9pc increase.

Virgin Media and O2 use January’s Retail Prices Index (RPI), plus 3.9 percentage points, to determine their price increases. We’ll know what they will be next month.

TalkTalk is bringing in a slightly lower 7.7pc increase. Sky Broadband, meanwhile, doesn’t set pricing based on inflation, but increases are expected to be announced soon. Last year’s rise of 8pc was considerably lower than other providers.

Despite the widespread nature of inflation-linked contracts, the majority of people said they did not understand inflation measures such as consumer price inflation and retail price inflation, and were unable to identify the increases in their own contracts, according to an Ofcom survey.

What are the best broadband deals?

Based on a London postcode:

Vodafone Fibre 2: 67MB, 24-month contract, £0 upfront costs, £50 gift card. £24 per month. New Vodafone customers only. Offer ends 21/01.

Sky Broadband Superfast: 61MB average speed, 18-month contract, £50 gift card, £5 upfront costs. £27 per month. New Sky customers only. Offer ends 18/01.

Now Broadband Super Fibre: 63MB average speed, 12-month contract, £10 upfront costs. £23 per month. New NOW Broadband customers only. Offer ends 18/01.

Plusnet Fibre: 66MB average speed, 24-month contract, £0 upfront costs. £24.99 per month. New Plusnet customers only. Offer ends 24/01.

BT Fibre 2: 74MB average speed, 24-month contract, £31.99 upfront costs, £50 reward card. £35.99 per month. New BT customers only. Offer ends 25/01.

Shell Energy, 67MB average speed, £9.95 upfront costs, 18-month contract. £28.99 per month. New Shell Energy Broadband customers only. No end date on the site.

For those who live in high-speed areas and are eligible:

Virgin Media M125 Fibre Broadband: 132MB average speed, 18-month contract, £0 upfront costs. £26.50 per month. £70 bill credit. New Virgin Media customers only. Offer ends 18/01.

Virgin Media M250 Fibre Broadband: 264MB average speed, 18-month contract, £0 upfront costs. £30.50 per month. £75 bill credit. New Virgin Media customers only. Offer ends 18/01.

Sky Ultrafast: 145MB average speed, 18-month contract, £5 upfront costs. £29.00 per month. £60 gift card. New Sky customers only. Offer ends 18/01.

BT Full Fibre 100: 150 MB average speed, 24-month contract, £0 upfront cost. £28.99 per month. £50 reward card. New BT customers only. Offer ends 25/01.

Source: T&Cs apply to all the deals. Monthly prices are subject to increase each April in line with the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation.

Can I cancel mid-term?

If your contract does not explicitly set out these increases, then you should be able to leave without paying the exit fee – which can be hundreds of pounds.

Just be sure to discuss this with your provider first. If this isn’t satisfactory, or takes longer than eight weeks, you can refer the matter for free to the communications ombudsman.

If you’re signed up to a fixed deal and want to cancel your internet contract at any point, you’ll need to give 30 days’ notice.

Ending your deal mid-contract will probably mean paying an early termination penalty, which could be hefty if there’s still a lot of time left on your contract.

When you initially sign up for a broadband contract, there’s usually a 14-day cooling-off period which allows you to cancel without penalty.

How to haggle for a better-priced deal

There are more options available to those coming to the end of a contract.

It is usually a bad idea to stay with a company for too long – “price walking” is rife and better deals are often available at operators seeking to entice new customers.

However, you could end up with a substandard product if you only consider price, so also weigh up what you want in speed, reliability and customer service.

If you’d prefer not to go through the upheaval of swapping providers, it might be worth haggling with your current one. Broadband is a large but fiercely competitive marketplace, and companies will often hand out sweeteners to keep customers on-side.

Holding out can pay dividends – data from Which? shows that the average haggler saved £43 a year. Be sure to highlight the issues you’ve had with your provider and any better offers that you’ve spotted.

What if my broadband speed is slow?

If your broadband speed is much slower than what your provider estimated, you are within your rights to request an affordable and decent connection.

But it’s important to understand the difference between your internet speed and WiFi speed.

Your provider’s minimum speed guarantee refers to internet speeds for devices with a wired connection to your router, using an ethernet cable, rather than relying on WiFi.

Most of the bigger internet providers have signed up to the Ofcom voluntary code. This means they must help you with your speed issues, and if your speed remains below your guaranteed minimum, they must let you leave your contract without incurring a penalty charge.

Alternatively, you may be given the option to continue the contract, but at a lower monthly cost.

What if I move house?

Uswitch says most providers will have dedicated teams to make it easy for you to transfer your broadband to your new home as long as you give 30 days’ notice, or in some instances, two weeks’ warning.

If you’re mid-contract, you may be able to leave for free if you move to a new area and your current provider is unable to supply a connection.

But this may not always be the case. Uswitch says that if you were still within your initial contract period, you would have to pay an early termination fee to cancel, even if you weren’t able to continue that service at your new address.

What to consider when finding a broadband deal


Comparing prices across the many broadband deals available is essential if you’re looking for good value for money. Many sites offer comparison services, including the Telegraph.

You might find that certain providers offer fast speeds for a lower price than their competitors. If you’re on a budget, opting for a cheap deal is possible –  you just need to do your research.


Most households fall into one of three categories of internet connection, technically called: ADSL, VDSL or FTTP.

You can enter your postcode on Ofcom’s website to check the connection quality in your area. If you live in the countryside, ADSL, the slowest, may be the only connection available to your property.

Internet speeds

No one wants slow broadband speeds, particularly in busy households with high usage. Take a look at the broadband speeds available in your area and consider which is the minimum speed you realistically need for a good internet connection.

Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and the average broadband speed in the UK is 86.5Mbps

Basic functions, such as browsing the internet and checking emails, usually require 1 to 2Mbps, but for video streaming you’ll need more – particularly if you want to watch in high definition.

Netflix recommends a minimum broadband speed of 3Mbps to watch programmes in HD, 5Mbps for Full HD and 15Mbps for 4k/UHD.

Video conferencing usually requires minimum speeds of between 3 and 4Mbps. Most games consoles recommend at least 3Mbps for online play, but data-intensive games can require speeds of over 100Mbps to avoid lag.

Contract length 

Users are typically bound to a contract for 12, 18 or 24 months.

Some longer contracts have lower monthly costs, so they could be worthwhile if you don’t mind tying yourself down for longer.

Some providers offer a 30-day rolling contract, which is perfect if you want a flexible, commitment-free broadband plan, as ending it only means seeing out the last 30-day period.

Have you been stung by broadband providers? We want to hear from you, email


The best broadband providers in the UK 2024, recommended by Telegraph readers

Read more

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.