After the cost of petrol, energy bills, groceries and more soared in 2022, consumers will need to brace for broadband to join the trend in 2023. Many providers have been planning price rises tied to inflation for a while now, but with inflation topping 10% customers will find notably bigger bills hitting their inboxes this spring. It is a pretty frustrating situation for anyone who signed up for a broadband deal expecting their provider to honour the agreed price for the length of the contract period. That is not going to happen. Many customers will not even be able to switch to the many cheap deals available to new customers without paying an eye-watering exit fee. Here we break down why this is happening, what the effect on your bill will be and how you can keep your broadband costs down.
Can broadband prices go up mid-contract?
Yes. Most consumers would expect the initial price they agree with their broadband provider to last for the full length of the set contract period. When you go on a provider's website or a comparison site, you will see a monthly price and a number of months. It would be completely reasonable to think you will pay that price for that number of months. Unfortunately that is not the case when it comes to broadband deals.
Many major broadband providers will increase your monthly bill during your minimum contract term, known as a mid-contract price rise. There are no rules or regulations to prevent this, but providers are supposed to include details of planned rises in your contract. If this is not done, you can leave for free when your bill goes up. Your provider has to give you 30 days notice that it intends increase the cost of your contract and if it is not part of your contract you can leave if you notify them within those 30 days.
Why are broadband prices going up?
A significant number of broadband providers hike prices every year. The price increase is usually inflation-linked, which means bills go up by a set figure plus the rate of inflation from the December of the previous year. Most providers use the CPI (consumer price index) rate and add on 3-4%. The additional figure is to ensure that broadband companies continue to increase revenue above the rate of inflation and meet any rising operating costs without eating into profits.
The December 2022 CPI rate was 10.5%, much higher than figures used to calculate previous rises. The UK having a high rate of inflation will be no surprise to anyone who has recently paid an electricity bill, bought some butter or filled up their car, but the publication of the official figures mean some prices are going to get worse. Millions of broadband customers in 2023 will be hit with an historically high bill hike of 13-15%.
When are broadband prices going up?
When your provider decides to introduce a price hike will vary, but many customers will see their bills change in March or April of 2023.
The price increase announcements are usually made in January or February, so there will be a bit of time before the hikes come into effect.
It is worth keeping in mind that your broadband price can also go up when your contract comes to an end. This is very common and can involve quite a sharp rise as the original price you agreed with your provider usually only lasts for 12, 18 or 24 months.
Which providers are raising broadband prices in 2023?
The simple answer is most of them. Due to the high rate of inflation and inflation-linked pricing policy, you can expect almost all major providers to hike broadband bills in 2023. There are a few outliers, but below we have summarised the rises that the major broadband providers are planning.
|Broadband provider||2023 price increase||Can you cancel for free if the price goes up?|
|Virgin Media||13.8%||Yes within 30 days|
|Sky||8.1%||Yes within 30 days|
|NOW Broadband||TBC||Yes within 30 days|
|Shell Energy Broadband||13.5%||No*|
*Some customers may have been promised they would be able to cancel for free when signing up. Check your paperwork for details or contact Shell Energy Broadband directly.
Which broadband providers do not raise prices mid-contract?
There are broadband providers that are not increasing prices for contracted customers in 2023. This is because these companies have policies to not raise bills during the agreed term of a customer’s contract. They might not be household names, but you will benefit from knowing that your bill will not go up for the duration of your deal. At the time of writing, Cuckoo and Voneus Broadband both advertise deals that do not include mid-contract price rises.
A crucial point to remember is that broadband providers are able to change the pricing policy at any point. Sky Broadband also does not include an annual price hike in customer contracts, but bills are still expected to rise in 2023 by an average of 8.1%. The important bit is that if your provider hikes your bill without a scheduled increase being included in your contract, you can leave for free if you notify your provider within 30 days of being informed about the pending increase.
Many broadband providers will not raise prices for customers on social broadband tariffs. Social broadband is a discounted scheme for customers claiming certain benefits. You can read more in our article ‘Which providers offer the best social tariff broadband?’.
Can I cancel my broadband when the price increases?
You can cancel your broadband contract for free if your provider introduces a mid-contract price rise that you did not agree to when you signed up. Unfortunately, many providers include annual price rises in the terms and conditions of customer contracts. These are usually worded as an annual increase of inflation plus a figure like 3.2%. So even though you have not been warned about the exact price rise you will have to pay, regulations do not allow you to leave for free. You can still cancel, but you might be hit with a pretty heavy early-termination fee.
If you are with a provider that does not include price hikes in its terms and conditions, you can leave for free when your bill goes up. You will have a 30-day window from when you are notified of the increase to cancel your contract or switch to a new provider.
Customers who are out of contract can leave for free without paying any kind of exit fee. If the initial period of your deal has expired and you did not agree to a new one, you are free to find a new provider and cancel your existing deal.
You can find out more by reading our article ‘When is the best time to switch broadband?’.
How to cancel my broadband
You may be able to cancel your broadband for free even if you are under contract. Here are our in-depth guides on how to cancel with each of the UK’s major broadband providers:
- ‘How to cancel BT Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel Virgin Media Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel Sky Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel TalkTalk Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel NOW TV Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel EE Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel Vodafone Broadband’
- ‘How to cancel Plusnet broadband’
Should I cancel my broadband?
If you are unsure whether to cancel your broadband after a price hike or to stick with your current provider, your best option is to do some research. We have written full, independent reviews for each of the UK's biggest broadband providers so you can get a better understanding of what each can offer: