Currently, the country is in the midst of a cost of living crisis which is being exacerbated by a soaring inflation rate and a spike in energy prices. Energy bills are expected to reach as high as £3,600 in January and inflation looks likely to exceed 12 percent in the coming months. One of the utilities which is experiencing an above-inflation price hike is household broadband and internet costs.
Research from media regulator Ofcom earlier this year found that around 1.1 million households in the UK are struggling to afford their broadband in light of the cost of living crisis.
This figure comes to around one in 10 households when you take into those on the lowest incomes.
Criticism has been directed at broadband providers, such as BT, which has committed to hitting millions of its customers with above-inflation increases to its prices.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Network and Communications group director, has urged broadband providers to do more to support consumers at this time.
Ms Fussell said: “Phone and broadband are vital to our lives, but many households’ budgets are being seriously squeezed. So it’s crucial that people who are struggling to afford their bills get the support they need.
“We’ve set out clear expectations on the steps providers should take, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on firms to make sure they’re treating customers fairly.”
Alex Fitzgerald, the CEO of Cuckoo Broadband, outlined the “appalling” treatment of broadband customers in the UK.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Mr Fitzgerald explained: “Everyone is feeling the cost of living pinch, and families are having to make difficult decisions that can come down to choosing between feeding their families and powering their homes.
“In fact, an ONS survey released in June revealed that three in four Brits are concerned about the rising costs of living.
“It’s appalling for struggling families to see fat-cat companies like BT hiking their prices up, above inflation no less, whilst posting roughly £1.3billion profits.
Consumers are also finding themselves trapped in contracts due to extoriate exit fees which means many people are unable to shop around the marketplace for deals.
The broadband expert added: “Now that’s just looking at price rises mid-contract, but what about exit fees?
“Ofcom has a hard job in cracking down on a cartel-like industry to protect people,” Mr Fitzgergald said.
“Brits are being stung by these unreasonable rising costs. For many households, it’s an absolute price prison.
“It’s time for all providers to do right by their customers and stop taking advantage – and Ofcom needs to step up and close the loopholes that have allowed this daylight robbery to continue for so long.”
Express.co.uk has reached out to BT for comment.