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Your guide to broadband installation

By Emma Lunn | Friday, January 15th 2021

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 setup, which we’ll explain in detail later.

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, which companies are better for fast broadband installation and even what happens when broadband is installed during COVID lockdown.

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 standard or fibre and whether you’ve chosen to go with Virgin Media, who have their own network, or any other UK provider that shares the BT Openreach network.

Installation waiting times

The quickest broadband installation you can expect is waiting 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

Installing broadband during lockdown

During COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, the majority of broadband switches have been going ahead as planned, with customers and engineers adhering to social distancing rules.

This means that you’re free to explore new deals and providers on our site with confidence, regardless of the COVID restrictions currently in place in your area.

Many of us have found it necessary to upgrade our internet to handle the demands of home working or homeschooling during lockdown and some great new deals have been made available by the big UK providers.

If you’re part-way through your current contract, remember that you’ll probably have to pay an early-exit fee if you want to make a switch. Talk to your provider about this before signing up to a new deal.

For a more in-depth look at what to expect during lockdown, read our guide.

Switching between Openreach providers

If you want to switch broadband providers during lockdown, moving between two that share the Openreach network (which includes everyone except Virgin Media and Hyperoptic) means that you probably won’t need an engineer to come to your home to install your new service.

In most cases, you can self-install, with no risk of spreading coronavirus - ideal if you’re shielding or self-isolating.

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

BT broadband

BT isn’t known for fast broadband installation when a new phone line is required, as this 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 costs for BT’s Fibre broadband (previously known as BT Infinity) are usually around £60. The brand sometimes offers special deals where installation costs are waived, however, so look out for these to save some cash.

As well as installation costs, there is usually a £9.99 delivery charge for your BT router. This 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

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 depend on the package you choose, but are usually between £50 and £85 (in general the more expensive the deal, the cheaper the new line connection fee).

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

Sky broadband

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

If you need a landline phone line installing, a £20 connection charge may apply, though if you’re signing up for a pricey bundle it may be worth trying to have this fee removed.

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 between about £20 and £60, plus £9.95 for delivery of the Sky Hub router in most cases. This will be sent by one of Sky’s delivery partners (normally Royal Mail).

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 brands 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 may apply on certain packages or bundles and a standard line installation starts from £40.

Most Virgin Media deals on contracts of 12 months or more come with a £35 activation fee. However, 30-day rolling contracts come with an upfront fee of £80.

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 and Hyperoptic). 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. Plus, some leasehold flats are not permitted to have a Sky dish installed (if you’re getting Sky TV) – so check the details of your lease. 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. 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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