AROUND 10 million BT customers are being told that phone and broadband bills will rise by up to 6% in January.
BT is raising the price of calls, line rental and broadband by up to 5.9% – more than twice the rate of inflation, at 2.6%.
The group, which recently agreed deals worth £890m to secure rights to screen Premier League football and Premiership rugby matches, revealed people signing up to the group’s cheapest television package Vision Essentials will see the monthly tariff increase from £4 to £5.
The move comes as the main power companies raise fuel bills, banks up mortgage rates and is the latest in a line of price increases by telecoms and TV providers.
BT’s main rival, Sky, increased some tariffs on September 1, after call charge and broadband increases by Virgin Media in April and bill rises for many TalkTalk customers since May. But BT said it would not raise prices on services again before 2014, including its Unlimited Anytime call plan, standard line rental and calls to UK landlines.
The price-rise announcements come months after BT agreed to pay £738m for the rights to 38 Premier League football matches a season for three years amid fears it vastly overpaid.
BT also announced it would pay £152m for exclusive live broadcast rights to Premiership rugby.
But a BT spokesman denied the TV sports rights deals are behind the customer bill rises.
“We make major investments in services for customers and technology all the time. It’s business as usual. These rights are an investment for our new sports channel,” he said.
It is hoping the rights deals for its forthcoming sports channel will help attract subscribers from rivals BSkyB and Virgin Media.
BT revealed its revenues fell 6% to £4.5bn in the three months to June 30, after a 1.9% fall in underlying turnover during the previous financial year, although annual underlying earnings rose 3% to £6.1bn after it cut costs.
Its BT Retail arm, which covers residential phones and broadband, suffered a 4% fall in annual revenues.
We make major investments in services for customers and technology all the time. It’s business as usual