BT shares nonetheless remain close to their lowest ebb in more than a decade amid fears over the costs of ultra-fast “full fibre” broadband upgrades and an ongoing review of its multibillion-pound pensions black hole.
Chief executive Philip Jansen has been under pressure to find new growth as speculation swirled in the City that the company could fall prey to an opportunistic takeover bid.
The price rises are likely to anger customers as the pandemic squeezes household finances. BT announced just last year that future price rises would be pegged to CPI, saying: “Customers want greater clarity and predictability about any price changes.”
Rocio Concha, of consumer group Which?, said: “Customers, especially those already feeling the financial impact of the pandemic, will be left reeling by these additional price hikes from BT. Customers who have signed up since the changes came in will be unable to cancel their contract early without incurring a charge.
“While investment in infrastructure is a good thing, it is important for providers to be upfront about price increases. Any customer approaching the end of their contract should look to shop around to see if a better deal is available.”
BT cancelled payouts to shareholders earlier this year worth £2.5bn to help meet the £12bn cost of upgrading 20m broadband lines by 2025.
The firm is seeking to install fibre optic cables which stretch all the way from telephone exchanges to customers’ homes, a project which will give them access to some of the fastest internet in the world but is hugely expensive.
Britain lags far behind the world’s best performers on average internet speed. The Telegraph is campaigning for better broadband to help families and workers get online easily in all areas, from the countryside to major cities.