How to get broadband with free installation
By Claire Nottage | Monday, July 26th 2021
Although there is no such thing as free broadband, finding a broadband deal with free installation is relatively easy. This is because most providers run on the same Openreach network and there is little work involved in switching from one to another.
However, there are plenty of other ways that providers can sneak in a few extra fees and cause your new broadband deal to not seem such good value after all. In this guide we look at the providers that offer broadband with no upfront costs and how you can get yourself the best possible deal overall.
What is free broadband installation?
Free installation is one of many marketing tools, along with no upfront costs, used by broadband providers to tempt new customers. Installation costs are those costs associated with getting your broadband service up and running in your property. Depending on where you live and the service you require, these costs can differ, with some potentially needing the involvement of an engineer, and others just requiring the flick of a switch at your local street cabinet.
What are set-up costs?
You may also see the words ‘free set-up’ in broadband advertising. This is a hazy term which could cover installation and router delivery, but usually just refers to the general admin and practicalities of creating your account and starting your new service. Even if a provider claims to offer free installation, they might still charge set-up fees which may need to be paid for upfront, so be sure to check the details when you are researching packages.
Which broadband providers offer free installation?
Providers that invariably offer free installation include Vodafone, Plusnet, TalkTalk, SSE, Shell Energy and John Lewis. In contrast, providers that nearly always charge for installation include BT, Sky and Virgin Media. Most other providers sit somewhere in the middle – sometimes charging and sometimes not.
You will find that most providers will offer free installation at some point. However, they may still charge a small upfront cost of about £10 to cover the delivery cost of your new router, even if they are not technically charging for installation. This cost is often added to your first bill rather than at sign-up.
Plusnet charges the first month’s fee upfront
Plusnet may not charge for installation, or even router delivery, but it does insist that you pay for your first month’s service upfront, so be aware of this if you are hoping to sign up to a new provider without having to pay any upfront fees at all. On the other hand, you may find that Plusnet in fact offers you the best deal overall if you look at the average monthly price across the full 18-month period, so always make sure you check the overall cost of any broadband contract before making a decision.
Best broadband deals with free installation
Free installation offers tend to come and go with broadband packages, so the best thing to do is know when your contract is up – you can find this out with your provider if you’re not sure – and start to keep an eye on what deals are around once you know you are in a position to soon be able to switch.
The best deals are often around in the January or summer sales, but flash sales do also appear at other times of the year. You can use our broadband comparison pages to find the best broadband deals with free installation currently available.
Contracts and small print
If you are looking to save money by avoiding any installation, delivery or set-up costs, make sure you check the details of the whole package before leaping at the first one you find offering free installation. Broadband providers are renowned for creating packages with very complex pricing systems. Some may charge upfront costs yet equally offer an excellent free gift in the form of shopping vouchers, for example, whereas another provider may offer free installation but no vouchers.
Installation costs can also sometimes vary depending on what type of broadband you choose, whether you just want standard ADSL broadband, a fast fibre connection, or fibre to the premises (also known as FTTP, or sometimes FTTH), which offers extremely high speeds but will require specialist installation.
To get the best deal overall, it’s really worth paying attention to every aspect of the package and know exactly what you need to pay for, how long you have to pay for, and whether there are any extras or freebies thrown in. Only then can you evaluate the true cost of each package. The easiest way to do this is to take a look at our broadband comparison pages where you can use the straightforward filters to find the latest deals offering the best value.
Broadband and TV deals with free installation
Most broadband and TV deals will come with an installation charge simply because the provider will charge you for the equipment you require in order to receive its TV service. This could just be for the TV box (or boxes), or it could also include installation of a satellite dish on your property if you want to have Sky TV.
One exception to this is TalkTalk, which provides its basic TV box with no installation fees. However, this box does not come with any recording function – for that you will have to pay an installation fee for the higher spec box. If you watch most of your TV via streaming or catch-up services then the lack of recording function may not bother you.
Bear in mind that even if your provider does not charge you for a TV box upfront, it may expect you to return it at the end of your contract, should you decide to leave for another provider. Some providers allow customers to keep their TV boxes, others expect them to be returned. You should check this when you sign up for a new broadband and TV contract.
Our best broadband deals in May 2022
We've handpicked the best deals to save you time and money. See our broadband comparison for a full list of deals.
£60 Reward CardTalkTalk Fibre 65
- 67Mb average speed +
- Unlimited usage +
- PAYG calls
£23.50 per month£60 Reward Card£0 one-off cost18 month contract
- £60 Reward Card
- Plus free installation offer
£100 Reward CardBT Fibre 2
- 67Mb average speed +
- Unlimited usage +
- No phone line
£31.99 per month(usually £33.99)£100 Reward Card£0 one-off cost24 month contract
- £100 Virtual Reward Card
- No set-up fees
- 1 mth speed boost
£65 Reward CardPlusnet Unlimited Broadband
- 10Mb average speed +
- Unlimited usage +
- PAYG calls
£18.99 per month£65 Reward Card£0 one-off cost12 month contract
- £65 Reward Card
- Free activation worth £5
Frequently asked questions
Can I get a phone line installed for free?
No. If you need a new phone line there will always be a charge. New phone lines are installed by Openreach who will pass the cost onto your provider who will then pass it on to you. New phone lines normally cost in the region of £50, which will be charged as an upfront cost.
Can I still get free broadband?
No. In fact broadband never was technically free as you still had to pay line rental. Since Ofcom’s ruling on this style of advertising, providers are now obliged to include the cost of the line rental in their broadband prices so that customers can more clearly see what they will be paying each month.
How long does installation take?
From the point at which you sign up to a new broadband service, it usually takes between 10 and 14 days for your new connection to be up and running. Your provider should give you clear information on this when you sign up.
Which providers offer the best free gifts?
BT is known for offering its BT Reward card to new customers, which can vary in value from £10 to £250, depending on the offer running at the time. Sky has been known to throw in a free laptop or TV with its broadband and TV deals. Virgin Media regularly offers bill credits or a case of Virgin Wines with its bundles.
Will I still get a free router with free installation?
Yes, all broadband providers give customers a free router with every broadband package. In some cases there may be a charge levied for router delivery.