BT whacks up prices but offers EE customers Apple freebies too

Apple EE offer

UK telecoms group BT takes with one hand in the form of a price increase and gives with the other thanks to some generous Apple content subs through its mobile arm EE.

BT has announced that from March 31 most of its customers will see a price hike of 9.3%, which it estimates to be an average increase of £3.50. The group made pains to explain its hand was forced by rising costs, which it seems to be largely attributing to people ploughing through more data over the pandemic period.

“Customers’ data usage on our networks has increased dramatically,” BT said in an announcement.  “We’ve seen a 90% increase on broadband since 2018 and 79% increase on mobile since 2019 as customers rely on our connectivity more than ever for things like working from home, education online and the growth in TV streaming. Unlike most things we buy, like food, electricity or fuel, you don’t pay more for using more as our data plans are unlimited, but we need to keep investing in our networks so they can handle this huge increase in demand.”

All the same, in the current climate where rises in the cost of living is becoming a hot political potato, the optics of a 9.3% jump in prices for its customers aren’t ideal.  As well as broadband and telephone lines, the inference seems to be that the price hike will affect EE customers as well. Perhaps in not unrelated news, the operator has today announced a generous set of Apple goodies.

New and existing customers will get six months free access to Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade – which all together is worth over £175. New customers will also be able to get Apple Fitness+ on an Apple Watch plan for an additional £7 per month for 24 months, which it says saves £72, while existing customers will benefit from six months of free Fitness+.

“We continue to look for ways to provide customers with unique access to great content and services, so the addition of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade to our exclusive Apple entertainment offer means they can now watch great shows such as Ted Lasso and Central Park and play games such as Skate City and Sonic Racing on us – for free,” said Alistair Wilson, Director of Devices and Partnerships at EE. “When combined with the power of the EE award-winning 4G and 5G network – iPhone customers really can make the most from what their device has to offer in more places than any other.”

Bundled goodies have always been a go-to way operators have tried to differentiate themselves from each other – and perhaps BT/EE felt it needed to do something since as well as the price hikes, EE is also one the networks to announce it will be reintroducing European roaming charges, so maybe this is as much about sugaring the pill as anything else.

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