Emma Lunn | April 11th, 2024

Your guide to broadband installation

Are you moving home, getting broadband installed for the first time or switching suppliers? Installation lead times depend on many factors, such as your chosen provider, whether you need a new phone line installed, and where you live.

Broadband installation

Whatever your reason for switching providers, installation times for internet provision vary depending on which company you choose, whether you need to have a new landline phone line installed and where you live.

The average internet installation time for any provider is two weeks, though there are a number of factors that can delay broadband set-up, which we’ll explain in detail later. And there are some types of broadband and specific situations where setup can be either considerably faster, or take much longer.

This page will tell you everything you need to know about getting connected; what to expect from the process, how long it might take in your case, and which companies are best for fast broadband installation.

What to expect with broadband installation

Whatever provider you choose for your new internet connection, the process for installing a fixed-line connection is similar:

  1. Once you’ve signed your contract, you’ll be given a provisional installation date.
  2. Your approximate installation date will be confirmed by your provider, with a time or time slot allocated.
  3. On the day, your engineer will arrive to carry out the planned work. He or she may ask you where you want your connection to enter your home, and may have work to do both inside and outside your property.
  4. It’s likely that a box will be installed inside your home to connect your house to the network.
  5. Your engineer will check your new connection and hook up your new router (this may arrive in advance, or come with your engineer on the day).
  6. Once your broadband is installed, you’ll be asked to confirm it’s all working and sign on the dotted line. Don’t do this until you’ve made sure that everything is as it should be.

The process is the same whether you’ve opted for ADSL (rarely available anymore), fibre (Full Fibre cam differ – see below), and whether you’ve chosen to go with Virgin Media, which has its own network, or any other UK provider that shares the Openreach network (everyone else).

It should also be noted that in some cases where a broadband line is already active – if you already have Virgin Media cables leading into your home, or you're switching from one Openreach provider to another – self-installation may be possible. In these cases the provider will simply send you your new router and you'll just have to plug it in on the right day.

Full Fibre installation

If you are switching to full fibre (fibre-to-the-premises), the installation process is slightly more complicated. The engineer will disconnect your old service and will feed the new Full Fibre cable into your home via a new box that will be installed on the outside of your property and a new modem on the inside. From the modem, the cable will be connected to your router. Full fibre installation can take two to three hours, and you will need to be at home for the engineer to come and do the work – there is no option to self-install full fibre.

However, once you have Full Fibre equipment running into your home, you may be able to take advantage of self-switching next time you change provider.

Installation waiting times

The quickest broadband installation time you can expect is within two weeks. If you already have a landline installed at your home, your wait may be shorter, as it might be possible for you to self-install without help from an engineer.

If your situation is more complicated, you will have to wait a little longer to have your service connected. There are also common delays, which we explain further down this page.

To help you compare providers, we’ve compiled a table that shows you the average wait times for broadband installation with some of the UK’s most popular internet companies.

Provider If you have a landline If you don’t have a landline
BT 14 days 21 days
Sky 14 days 21 days
TalkTalk 14 days 21 days
Virgin Media 14 days 14 days
All other providers 14 days 21 days

Switching between Openreach providers

If you want to switch broadband providers, moving between two that share the Openreach network (which includes most providers except Virgin Media and Hyperoptic) means that you probably won’t need an engineer to come to your home to install your new service as you should be able to self-install instead.

The only exception is where you switch to an ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises service, where in-home installation will be required.

BT broadband installation

BT isn’t known for fast broadband installation when a new phone line is required, which can take up to 15 working days to arrange. A new line normally costs about £140.

If a landline is already installed at your property, your service could be up and running within a couple of days, and you probably won’t have to pay any connection or reconnection charges.

BT will confirm how long installation will take when you place an order, agree a date for your services to be installed, and tell you whether or not an engineer needs to come to your home.

If you’re switching to BT from another provider it will normally take up to two weeks for the switch to take place.

Installation for BT’s Fibre broadband (previously known as BT Infinity) is usually free. It will be sent via Royal Mail and should arrive between 7am and 6pm the day before your activation date. You can easily connect the hub yourself.

TalkTalk broadband installation

If you want TalkTalk but don’t currently have a landline phone line at your property, they’ll install one for you. If you have an existing line, your activation date will be approximately 15 days after you place your order. The same goes if you’re switching to TalkTalk from any other provider excluding Virgin.

A date for an engineer to visit to install your broadband will be arranged when you place your order – this is usually within about two weeks.

Installation costs can play a part, but broadly installation is usually free.

TalkTalk’s fibre broadband generally comes without set-up fees. You’ll be sent your new router via Royal Mail, which should arrive three to five days before your services go live.

Sky broadband installation

Sky normally takes about two weeks to set up a new broadband connection.

If you need a landline phone line installed, a £20 connection charge may apply if you don't have one, but this is very, very rare. If you’re signing up for a pricey bundle it may be worth trying to have this fee removed if it applies.

Once you have ordered the service you want, Sky will confirm your activation date. You can also track your order online.

Set-up costs for Sky vary, but are free most times of the year and you need to be a little unlucky timing-wise to be charged a set-up fee. If you see a big installation charge on the Sky Broadband deal you want, give it a week or two and likely it will disappear.

Virgin Media broadband

Getting Virgin Media installed is a bit different, as the brand has its own network, separate from the Openreach network used by other providers.

You don’t necessarily need a phone line to get Virgin, unless you’re taking advantage of one of the brand’s TV or phone bundles.

If your home’s been connected to Virgin Media’s network in the past three years, you can use its QuickStart self-install pack. This can either be sent to your home for £5 or picked up from your nearest Collect+ store for free. In either case, you will be sent a straightforward self-installation kit and you can be up and running within as little as four days of placing your order - making Virgin Media the quickest company to install home broadband.

If you’re a brand new customer, Virgin will offer you some potential installation dates before you place your order and appointments should be available within 14 days.

Engineer fees are rare with Virgin Media and usually waived.

What could delay your broadband installation?

There are several commons reasons for experiencing a delay to your internet installation:

You need a new phone line: Most properties have had a BT landline installed at some point, which will be required by any provider operating on the Openreach network (everyone except Virgin Media, CityFibre and Hyperoptic), unless you are switching to a full fibre service. If your home doesn’t have a landline connection, one will need to be installed in order for you to access the internet, and you’ll have to pay for reconnection.

You’re moving to a new build property: If you live in a new build property, your address must be registered with Royal Mail before you can place an order for a phone line or broadband, or get equipment delivered in the post. The builder should register the property or you can contact Royal Mail yourself.

You live in a flat: With all broadband providers, non-standard set-up may cost extra. Sky states that prices may vary if you live in a flat. If you live in a high-rise flat, your installation engineer may need to locate the ‘distribution point’ in the building, so it’s helpful to find out where this is in advance.

You live in a rented property: If you’re renting, you might need to ask the landlord’s permission before getting a phone line or broadband installed because it will usually involve drilling into the walls of the building. Check your tenancy contract, though there’s no valid reason for them to say no. Be wary of signing a contract that is longer than your rental contract – if you have to move out you will still have to pay for the remaining time on your contract – or risk being charged a cancellation fee.

You miss the engineer appointment: If a visit by an engineer has been arranged to activate your service, make sure you or another person over 18 is at your property at the agreed date and time. Failure to do so will result in a delay in installation and possibly charges for wasting time.

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