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How long does it take to install broadband?

By Emma Lunn | Wednesday, January 2nd 2019

Whether you are moving home, getting broadband installed for the first time, or switching suppliers, installation lead times can depend on many factors, including which provider you choose, whether you need a new phone line installed, and where you live.

Normally it takes about two weeks to get broadband installed, but there are no hard and fast rules. Most broadband services are still delivered by a phone line, so whether you have an existing phone line at your property and whether it’s currently connected or not, are two major factors as to how quickly your new service will be installed.

Broadband installation times by provider

  • BT: Two weeks if you already have a landline, three weeks if you don't
  • Talktalk: Two weeks if you already have a landline, three weeks if you don't
  • Sky: Two weeks if you already have a landline, three weeks if you don't
  • Virgin Media: Two weeks whether you have an existing Virgin line or not
  • All other providers: Generally comply with the two-week, three-week rule

In most cases, regardless of provider, you need to allow two weeks from purchase for your new broadband service to be up and running. There are exceptions to this, such as if you already have the required line, you can self-install without the need to wait for an engineer, which can cut waiting times.

Equally, if your situation is more complex, it can take longer. We've listed and explained all the reasons you might experience a delay at the end of this guide.

BT broadband

BT says that if a brand new line needs to be installed to deliver your broadband, it will usually take up to 15 working days from the date on which you place your order. It could take longer depending on the availability, but this is rare. A new line normally costs about £140. However, if BT finds that you've already got a line at your property, it could have this up and running within a couple of days and you might not have to pay connection or reconnection charges.

bt smart hub

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 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 complete.

BT’s Superfast Fibre broadband (previously known as BT Infinity), usually costs about £60 to install. However, it sometimes does special deals where the activation or upfront fees are waived. 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 arrive the day before your activation date. You can connect the hub yourself – it’s pretty easy.

Compare BT broadband

TalkTalk broadband

If you want TalkTalk broadband but don’t have a suitable phone line, it will install one for you. A date for an engineer to visit will be arranged when you place your order – it should be within about two weeks. How much it will cost depends on the broadband package, but it will usually be between £50 and £85 (in general the more expensive the broadband deal, the cheaper the new line connection fee).

If you have an existing line TalkTalk can use, your activation date will be approximately 15 days after you place your order. The same goes if you’re switching to TalkTalk from pretty much any other provider apart from Virgin – it will normally take up to 15 days.

TalkTalk’s fibre broadband generally comes without set-up fees. TalkTalk will send your router to your home address by Royal Mail and it should arrive three to five days before your services go live.

Compare TalkTalk broadband

Sky broadband

Sky normally takes about two weeks to get a new broadband connection set up. If you need a new phone line, a £20 connection charge may apply – if you’re signing up for a pricey bundle it may be worth trying to negotiate on this. Once you have ordered Sky broadband or fibre, Sky will confirm your activation date. You can also track your order online.

Set-up costs for Sky broadband packages 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).

Compare Sky broadband

Virgin Media broadband

Getting Virgin Media broadband installed is a bit different, but that's not to say it takes longer than any other provider. It has its own network – separate from the Openreach network which is used by all other providers. You don’t necessarily need a phone line to get Virgin broadband, although it offers phone and broadband packages, plus bundles which include TV too.

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.

If you are a brand new customer, Virgin will show you some potential installation dates before you place your order and appointments should be available within 14 days. Engineer installation fees may apply on certain packages or bundles and a standard line installation starts from £40.

Most Virgin Media broadband deals on contracts of 12 months or more come with a £20 activation fee. However, broadband deals on 30-day rolling contracts come with an upfront fee of £65.

Compare Virgin Media broadband

Installation delays

You need a new phone line

Most properties will have had a BT phone line at some point, which is required by an provider operating on the Openreach network. If your home has had a telephone service from BT in the recent past, and the wiring and socket is undamaged and the line still has a dial tone, you shouldn't have to pay any connection or reconnection charges. The one exception is if the phone has been disconnected due to unpaid bills (even if it wasn’t you) – you’ll have to pay for reconnection. The same applies to Virgin Media.

You're moving to a new build property

If you’re in a new build property, your address will need to 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. High-rise flat-dwellers should ask if there will be any issues when they place their order. The engineer might need to locate the “distribution point” in the building, so check this isn’t in a locked cupboard.

You live in a rented property

If you’re renting, ask the landlord or letting agent if there’s a phone line installed. You might need to ask the landlord’s permission before getting a phone line or broadband installed – check your tenancy contract – but there’s no good reason for them to say no. Equally, check whether you can have a Sky dish attached if you want Sky TV. Be wary of signing a broadband 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 hefty cancellation fee.

You miss the engineer appointment

If a visit by an engineer has been arranged to activate your broadband service, make sure you or another person over 18 is in at your property at the agreed date and time. Failure to do so means the engineer can’t carry out the work, resulting in a delay in installation and possibly charges for wasting their time.

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