Millions of mobile and broadband customers face £2.5 billion price hikes in 2023

More than 13 million mobile and broadband customers may see bills rise by £100 next year due to inflation-busting price hikes, Citizens Advice is warning. 

The charity has found nine out of 10 broadband customers and seven out of 10 mobile customers are with providers who can hike prices halfway through the contract. While products like insurance or fixed-term mortgages remain the same price throughout a contract, mobile and broadband costs can fluctuate during the contract.

Many providers are currently set to increase prices beyond inflation, in the worst cases up to 3.9% above that. 

With the recent Bank of England estimates putting inflation at 12.6% in January 2023, mid-contract price hikes will be much higher this year than in previous years, at a time when people are least able to manage them. 

The charity found that one in three mobile and broadband customers facing price hikes have already cut back on everyday essentials such as food, energy and clothing. It is now calling for providers to axe these price rises, which it predicts could cost consumers £2.5 billion extra in 2023.

With mobile and broadband internet being an essential utility, relied upon by many for employment, managing benefits and staying in touch with loved ones, Citizens Advice is warning that access must remain affordable. The charity found that over a third of broadband and mobile customers facing price rises are already worried about being able to afford these services at their current costs.

The tables below show how much prices could increase if inflation hits 12.6% in January as forecast by the Bank of England.

Worryingly for those trying to budget right now, the charity found that across both markets, one in four customers didn’t know their prices could go up mid-contract, and a further two in five were aware they could rise, but didn’t know by how much.

‘It may only seem like a few pounds but everything is going up -  I’ll have to start cutting back’

Richard, 42, lives in Torquay,  said of his mobile costs: “Over the years I have had many mid-contract price rises. And it may seem like only a few pounds, but it quickly adds up.

“I’ve just found out my rent is about to go up and all my other bills are going up. I’m going to have to seriously start cutting back on some things.“

Citizens Advice heard from others on rising prices mid-contract, including from:

  • One shopper who took out an internet contract for £48 per month, but the provider suddenly started charging £54 and then £59 without telling the customer. They are stuck in this contract for 18 months.

  • One customer who has seen their monthly mobile contract go up from £64 to £70 a month, despite being under the impression that price rises would be closer to 50p/£1.

  • One person who changed contracts after telling their internet provider they wanted cheaper broadband and agreed to a contract for £34 for two years - but the provider has already put up costs.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Every day our advisers hear from people barely making ends meet as they try to cope with inflation and soaring household bills. 

“As we all pull together in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, mobile and broadband providers should be finding every way possible to help people. 

“We want to see them cancel mid-contract price rises this year. Ofcom and the government should then look to protect consumers from future ones.”

Notes to editors

  1. Opinium carried out a nationally representative survey of 3087 UK adults between 15 and 23 June 2022, of which 2642 had a mobile contract and 2258 had a broadband contract at the time of the survey. 

  2. Citizens Advice contacted BT, EE, John Lewis, Plusnet, Talktalk, Vodafone, Sky, Virgin, CountryConnect, G.Network, Hyperoptic, SSE Energy Services, O2, TalkMobile, Three, iD Mobile, Tesco Mobile between 29 August and 7 September 2022 to confirm their approach to mid-contract price rises for 2023. All information cited in the press release is correct as of 22 September 2022 - price-rise information for older contracts may vary.

  3. Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.

  4. Our network of charities offers impartial advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. 

  5. We helped 2.4 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2020-21. And we had 40 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,600 service outlets across England and Wales.

  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh language speakers.