UK ISP Virgin Media is to increase its broadband and phone prices for the second time in less than a year.
The increases of an average of 4.9 per cent are more than twice the rate of inflation, adding around £40 to the annual cost of an average Virgin Media subscription, but as much as £54 for some subscribers.
The company has blamed increases in business rates for the move, but is in line with regular price hikes from the company, which is now owned by Liberty Communications. The company last hiked prices in October 2018, back then by an average of 4.5 per cent, which was also well-above the prevailing rate of inflation.
The price increases will come into effect in September and October, but customers tied-in to long-term contracts have the legal right to terminate their contracts early as a result of the price increases.
The company claims that the price hikes won't be applied to customers who signed-up after 29 April, nor subscribers to its top-of-the-range 'Oomph' bundles.
The company added that it spends more than £1bn a year on its network and services, with connection speeds now topping 500Mbps - seven times BT's standard Fibre 2 network speed of 75Mbps and more than three times faster than BT's 150Mbps ‘Ultrafast Fibre Plus 2' broadband, which is not yet widely available.
Virgin Media will soon be offering gigabit speeds to customers, while BT is still to roll out 300Mbps broadband in significant volume. Indeed, BT hasn't even rolled out fibre-to-the-cabinet to some parts of London, leaving ADSL broadband as the only choice for people in parts of Forest Hill and Woolwich.
New subscribers, of course, can enjoy introductory discounts for 12 months, but even those prices are subject to Virgin Media's periodic price hikes. The typical price of its standard ‘Big Bundle' is now £38 per month, which is basically 108Mbps fibre, phone and free television channels; while its top ‘Bundle' weighs in at £139 per month
In addition, all contracts require the payment of a £35 set-up fee. µ
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