Broadband mid-contract price increases 2024: Can you dodge the price hike?

7 min Read Published: 07 Jun 2024

Broadband mid-contract price increases 2024: Can you dodge the price hike?Broadband prices can go up even if you are still within the initial term of your contract. In recent years, all of the major UK broadband providers have hiked prices on an annual basis, usually at a rate linked to inflation. This can be especially frustrating because you are often unable to switch providers for free when your bill goes up. In this article we explain how mid-contract price rises work, what you can expect in 2024 and whether there is a way to dodge the hike.

What are mid-contract price rises?

A mid-contract price rise is an increase to your broadband bill while you are still in the initial term of your contract. When you sign up with a broadband provider you will usually agree to an initial period of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months, though some providers do offer 30-day deals.

During this time, you can only cancel your broadband or move to a new provider for free if you are within a cooling-off period, if you are not getting the service you were promised or if your bill goes up unexpectedly. Keep in mind that most major providers include mid-contract price rises in their terms and conditions, so you are technically agreeing to them when you sign up.

Most rises kick in in April and are linked to an inflation figure from the previous year, usually the Consumer Price Index (CPI), though some use the Retail Price Index (RPI). The amount your bill goes up by will likely be the provider’s chosen inflation figure, plus a percentage, usually 3-4%. If inflation is negative, your price would still go up by the additional figure.

Almost all of the major UK broadband providers are due to hike prices this year, leaving customers with little option but to pay up or fork out a hefty early termination fee.

Broadband price increase 2024

Here you can see all of the major UK broadband providers, the rate customers' broadband bills will be increased by in 2024 and whether they can cancel for free in response.

Broadband provider 2024 price increase 2023 price increase Cancel for free?
Virgin Media 8.8% (RPI rate + 3.9%) 13.8% No
Onestream 8.8% (RPI rate + 3.9%) 14.4% No
BT 7.9% (CPI rate + 3.9%) 14.4% No
Plusnet 7.9% (CPI rate + 3.9%) 14.4% No
EE 7.9% (CPI rate + 3.9%) 14.4% No
Vodafone 7.9% (CPI rate + 3.9%) 14.4% No
Three 7.9% (CPI rate + 3.9%) 14.4% No
KCOM 7.9% (CPI rate + 3.9%) £2 per month Check with your provider
TalkTalk 7.7% (CPI rate + 3.7%) 14.2% No
Shell Energy Broadband 7.0% (CPI rate + 3%) 13.5% Check with your provider
Community Fibre 6.9% (CPI rate + 2.9%) 13.4% No
Sky 6.7% 8.1% Yes
Gigaclear TBA (July 2024 CPI rate + 3.5%, to come into effect October 2024) 14% No
NOW Broadband £3 per month £3.50 per month Yes

How much will your broadband bill go up by in 2024?

Here we have shown how the most common 2024 hikes will affect different broadband deals, so you can see roughly how your bill will change in real terms.

Current monthly cost Monthly cost after 6.7% increase Monthly cost after 7.9% increase Monthly cost after 8.8% increase
£20 £21.34 £21.58 £21.76
£25 £26.68 £26.98 £27.20
£30 £32.01 £32.37 £32.64
£35 £37.35 £37.77 £38.08
£40 £42.68 £43.16 £43.52
£50 £53.35 £53.95 £54.40
£60 £64.02 £64.74 £65.28
£75 £80.03 £80.92 £81.60
£100 £106.70 £107.90 £108.80

Can you leave your broadband contract if your price goes up?

You can always cancel your broadband whenever you want, either to switch to a different provider or to disconnect from the internet altogether. However, whether or not this is free will depend on your provider and your contract situation.

If you are under contract…

Being under contract means you are still in the period of time that your broadband deal lasts. This is most likely to be 12, 18 or 24 months. You can check with your provider to see how long you have left on your current deal or if it has expired.

You can cancel your broadband while you are under contract, but it is unlikely to be free. One exception is if you are hit by an 'unexpected' price hike. Internet providers need to tell customers about any planned above-inflation price increases when they sign up, or they can leave for free when their bill changes. If you are not told about a price increase until after your service has started, you will have 30 days to cancel for free.

Most providers do notify customers of annual mid-contract price increases when they sign up, however, it is not always immediately obvious in the terms and conditions. If you have a line in your contract such as “Prices rise on 31 March each year by Consumer Price Index rate of inflation + 3.9%”, you will likely need to pay an early termination fee to cancel.

Early termination fees

Providers will usually charge you your monthly fee multiplied by the months remaining on your contract, minus what it says are the savings from no longer providing you a broadband service. For example, if your broadband deal costs £45 per month, minus a monthly discount of £10, and you want to cancel with six months left on your minimum term, your provider may:

  1. Subtract your discount from the monthly charge (£45 - £10 = £35)
  2. Multiply by the number of months left on your deal (£35 x 6 months = £210)
  3. Subtract VAT (20% off £210 = £168)
  4. Subtract its cost savings of £15 a month (£168 - £90 = £78)
  5. Subtract a 1% discount for early final payment (1% off £78 = £77.22)
  6. Add VAT back on (£77.22 plus 20% = £92.66)

This would leave your total cancellation fees at £92.66 and make cancelling much more expensive than paying £2-£3 more each month.

Keep in mind that it is a legal requirement for internet service providers to give customers at least 14 days to change their mind after they sign up for a deal. This means you will be able to cancel without paying if you change your mind. If your service goes live within 14 days, you may still need to pay set-up and installation fees, or delivery fees.

Slow broadband

Any provider that has opted into Ofcom’s ‘Broadband Speeds Code of Practice’ must tell you the minimum speed it can provide to your home when you sign up. If it fails to provide that speed, you should be able to leave your contract without paying a termination fee. At the time of writing, the signed-up providers are:

  • BT
  • EE
  • NOW Broadband
  • Plusnet
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Utility Warehouse
  • Virgin Media
  • Zen Internet

You will need to give your provider the opportunity to fix any speed issues first. After you have made a complaint that your internet speed is below your contractual minimum, your provider has 30 days to find the fault and fix it. This will likely involve sending an engineer to your home to assess the connection, as well as investigating other parts of the infrastructure in your local area. If your speed cannot be increased to the guaranteed minimum, you will be able to cancel your broadband without paying a fee to leave.

A key point to remember is that the term ‘guaranteed minimum speed’ refers to the broadband speed that reaches your home, not what reaches your devices. Broadband speeds can vary around your home for several reasons, so even if a speed test on your laptop is showing you are below the minimum, the speed supplied by your provider could be higher.

If you are out of contract…

You can switch to any provider that is able to supply internet to your home, without paying an exit fee, if you have exceeded the minimum term on your contract. This allows you to avoid paying the new, higher price, but you may find that whichever new provider you choose has its own price rises lined up.

You can see who we think are the best broadband providers to switch to on our 'Who is the best broadband provider?' page.

What to do to avoid broadband mid-contract price rises

The only way to avoid an annual broadband price rise is to sign up with a provider that does not implement mid-contract price rises. These providers do exist, but the list does not include any of the UK’s big names.

Leaving your existing provider while under contract because your bill is going up will only be free if your contract does not include a reference to a price rise. This reference will likely read something like "Prices rise on 31st March each year by Consumer Price Index rate of inflation + 3.9%". If your contract includes a similar line, you will likely need to pay an early exit fee. This fee can end up costing you more than the price increase, depending on how long is left on your deal.

If you are out of contract, it is free for you to move to a new provider. However, it is important to remember that unless you switch to a provider with no mid-contract price rises, your new price will still go up. For example, if you sign up with BT for £30 in March, your April bill will be £32.37. This is because the price rises apply to all in-contract customers, whether you originally signed up six months ago or six days ago.

Therefore, the only way to avoid a price increase is to sign up with a company that is committed to not introducing mid-contract price rises. Even then, it is possible that your new provider could row back this commitment, though you would then be able to leave for free.

Is avoiding broadband mid-contract price rises worth it?

Avoiding an annual mid-contract price rise is worth it if it saves you money or gives you valuable peace of mind. For some people, knowing your broadband bill will not change during your contract makes life a little bit less stressful. It can also make budgeting easier as you do not need to factor in the bill going up by an unknown amount in the near future.

For other people, the key is saving money. A £30 bill for six months, rising to £32.37 for six months is still cheaper than paying £32 for 12 months. This means that dodging the price rise will not necessarily be a money-saving choice. You may also find that certain providers that apply mid-contract price rises offer addition incentives, such as a voucher or a bill credit, while an alternative provider that doesn't hike prices does not. Ultimately you will have to work out what is more valuable to you: paying less, or peace of mind.

Of course, there is always the possibility that a smaller provider that commits to no mid-contract price rises will be the cheapest option anyway. This makes it all the more important to compare broadband deals across a wide range of providers before you sign up.

Providers that do not apply mid-contract price rises

  • Hyperoptic
  • Trooli
  • Cuckoo
  • Direct Save Telecom
  • Zen Internet
  • Utility Warehouse
  • Voneus
  • Wessex Internet
  • Brsk
  • Connect Fibre
  • Hull Fibre
  • Link Broadband
  • Octaplus
  • Open Fibre
  • Squirrell Internet
  • Infinics
  • Yayzi
  • Fiber Zone

How to compare broadband prices

It is worth comparing broadband deals online via a comparison site prior to cancelling your broadband, so that you know what price you could be paying elsewhere. Comparison sites help you to compare the best deals from multiple broadband providers at once. Results can be filtered by personal preference, usually with options to tailor results by factors including price, speed, reliability, Wi-Fi coverage and customer service. If your current provider is then not able to match that price, you could cancel and switch to the cheaper deal.

For more information on how to switch broadband companies, here are our in-depth guides on how to cancel with each of the UK’s major broadband providers: