The move is a further blow for cash-strapped consumers, many of whom are already struggling to cope with increases in energy bills.
The new pricing structure from BT means that the cost of daytime calls to UK landlines will go up from 7.6p to 7.95p a minute, while line rental prices will also increase.
BT has now pledged to freeze its prices at this level until 2013, but this is cold comfort for customers who have already swallowed a 10% hike this time last year and a 9% increase in April this year.
Mike Wilson, manager of mobiles and broadband at moneysupermarket.com said: “Although BT says prices will now be frozen until 2013 the increase to line rental is disappointing since this is the compulsory charge their customers have to pay.”
BT is not the only home phone provider to raise its prices. In fact, its latest hike marks the tenth price increase from a major provider since the start of the year.
And the bad news for customers of other companies is that they are likely to respond to BT’s move by implementing further price rises of their own.
The exception to this is Sky, which has made a similar commitment to keep its prices at their current level until 2013.
I am a BT customer. What should I do?
If you would prefer to stay with BT to avoid the hassle and potential installation costs involved in switching, the company’s Line Rental Saver tariff will generally prove the best option.
It offers savings of more than £55 against the increased line rental pricing – as long as you are willing to pay the total annual cost of £120 in one lump sum.
As mobile calling rates remain unaffected, and BT ranks as one of the cheapest providers for calls of this type, anyone who calls a lot of mobiles may also make further longer-term savings by sticking with BT.
If, however, you would prefer to seek out a better deal elsewhere in the wake of this latest round of hikes, then the best approach is to scour the entire market - including smaller, niche providers – for the best deal for your needs.
You can get a stand-alone line rental deal from minnow Primus, for example, for as little as £6.79 a month – half the price of many of the offers available from its larger rivals.
Mike Wilson said; “My advice to customers in this market of rising prices is to ensure you’re on the right deal and not paying for any extras or services that you don’t need or use. There are some good savings to be made if you’re willing to shop around.
“The easiest way to make a considerable saving is to bundle your home services together by taking out a package that includes your home phone and broadband, and you can also include a TV service subscription if you need it. Now really is the time to review your products and make sure you’re getting value for money.”
Bundling often works out much cheaper than going for standalone services because the major providers all offer significant discounts for customers who buy their services this way.
With BT, for example, you could get high-speed broadband, “Anytime” calls and “Unlimited” TV for about £525 a year.
How else can I reduce my bills?
One of the first things to check is that you are on the right calling plan for your needs. If, for example, you make frequent calls during the day and are not on an "Anytime" calling plan you should consider switching plans.
Whichever phone provider you are with, it is also worth pointing out that contacting your current supplier’s customer services team and threatening to switch unless they give you a better deal can sometimes reap surprising rewards.
Make sure too that you are paying your bills in the most cost-effective way. Paying by Direct Debit, for example, can cut your bills by about £5 a year.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.