How to get a new phone line installed in the UK

Dan Howdle | May 11th, 2023

Old telephone landline

There are a number of reasons you may need to get a new phone line installed at your home. These range for getting a second line for business or other purposes, to switching between broadband networks where the necessary line isn't currently coming into your home.

In this guide, we're going to take a closer look at the different situations where you might need a new phone line installed, what it's likely to cost you depending on your situation, and the process of installation itself.

Why you might need a new phone line

There are a few reasons why you might need a new phone line installed at your property. They are…

  • Moving house: Occasionally, you may move house and find the line disconnected or even non-existent at your new home
  • Getting a dedicated second line: Some homes, especially those in which a home business is operating, may need a second line installed exclusively for work. Professional gamers may also find some utility in a second, dedicated line
  • Switching broadband network: Switching broadband provider usually won't mean a new phone line, but switching network (between Openreach and Virgin Media) can. More on that below

A new phone line when moving house

When moving to a new property, you may find that there is no existing phone line installed. In this case, you will need to arrange for a new line installation with a provider such as Openreach or Virgin Media. This can take a few weeks to complete, so it's important to book in advance to avoid any delays in getting connected. Our own experience has been that you can often persuade those vacating the home you're moving into to allow in an engineer to carry out this work before you move in.

A second line for business, personal or gaming use

If you're setting up a home office or business, you may need a dedicated phone line to separate work and personal calls. This can also be useful for jobs that require you operate a professional customer service line. A dedicated phone line can be installed by your chosen provider, and costs will depend on the type of installation required.

Another, rather niche, use case for a second phone line may be to install a second broadband connection specifically for online gaming. This is sometimes a good option for users who earn their living through gaming online, but unnecessary for most gamers, where your bog-standard router is already able to prioritise online gaming connections.

A new line when switching broadband provider

If you're switching to a new broadband provider it's actually pretty unlikely you'll need a phone line installed. That's because most broadband providers operate on the same physical network (Openreach), so switching between them won't usually need any additional line installation. However, when switching between a provider on Openreach and Virgin Media or vice versa, you may need an engineer to come and either install the physical phone line, or for an existing line to be activated at the street cabinet, exchange or both. And varying charges will apply depending on what exactly need setting up.

How much will it cost?

Setting up a new phone line either for voice or broadband usage does usually carry an associated fee, importantly, sometimes even when the deal you're looking at expressly states 'no set-up fee' or similar wording.

That's because 'no set-up fee' generally assumes you already have the right cables coming into your home, and that you already have an active phone line. Your new broadband provider will have the details you need when it comes to whether you're going to need a new line set-up and it will depend on your unique circumstances as to what this will involve. Here is a quick snapshot of the additional cost of installing a new line according to the UK's biggest providers:

Provider New line installation cost
BT £140 (fixed cost)
Virgin Media From £30
TalkTalk Up to £60
Sky Broadband From £20 (Sky doesn't offer second lines)
Plusnet £49.99 (fixed cost)

As you can see there is a wide range of fees for installing a new line, depending on provider. Also worth noting that some providers such as Sky do not offer a second phone line. If you're with Sky and need another line, you will need to approach a second provider, which adds complication and complexity to both your bill and your technical set-up.

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Openreach vs Virgin Media – why it matters

Openreach is the fixed-line broadband and telephone network used by most UK providers and is broadly available everywhere. The only providers, in fact, that don't operate on the Openreach network are some small, independent local providers – usually rural and/or with a very small availability footprint – and most notably Virgin Media, which is available to just over half of UK homes and businesses.

These two networks differ considerably in terms of the technologies they offer. Openreach offers a mixture of part-fibre, part copper known as FTTC, and more recently has been rolling out pure fibre all the way to the home, which offers much faster speeds. Virgin Media uses what used to be the UK's cable TV network. It's not pure fibre, but the cables are robust and offer extremely fast broadband speeds as well as clear and reliable telephony.

Generally, it's most likely that you'll need a new line installed when moving between these two networks. However, the chances remain low. Very few homes in the UK don't already have an Openreach line running into them, and Virgin Media won't charge you for a new line installation when installing services such as broadband and TV.

The installation process

Should you be in a situation where you need a new phone line or second line installed in your home, the process will vary depending on which network you're planning on using.

Installing a new line: Openreach providers

When getting a new phone line installed with an Openreach provider (practically any provider that's not Virgin Media), the first step is to contact the provider to book an installation. The provider will then arrange for an engineer to visit your property to install the line. The engineer will usually need access to your home to install the master socket, which is the point where the phone line enters your property. They may also need to install an external box or cable to connect your property to the nearest green, street cabinet.

Once the installation is complete, the engineer will test the line and ensure it's working correctly. They will also provide you with any necessary equipment, such as a router or phone line filter, and give you instructions on how to set everything up. The entire process usually takes around 2-3 weeks, depending on availability and the complexity of the installation.

Installing a new line: Virgin Media

If you're getting a new phone line installed with Virgin Media, the process is slightly different. Virgin Media uses its own network infrastructure and does not rely on Openreach, so the installation process can be quicker in some cases. You can usually book an installation online or over the phone, and Virgin Media will arrange for an engineer to visit your property to install the line.

They may also need to install an external box or cable to connect your property to the nearest cabinet. Once the installation is complete, the engineer will test the line and ensure that it's working correctly. Virgin Media will also provide you with any necessary equipment, and give you instructions on how to set everything up. The entire process usually takes around 1-2 weeks, depending on how busy they are (Virgin Media can be very busy some parts of the year, and less so others).

See also

Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to get a new phone line installed?

Prices vary depending on the provider and the type of installation required. Openreach charges between £20 and £140 for a new line, depending on the specific provider, while Virgin Media charges £30 for a standard installation.

How long does it take to get a new phone line installed?

The installation process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the provider and the complexity of the installation. Openreach providers (BT, Sky etc.) usually takes around two to three weeks to install a new line, while Virgin Media can usually complete a standard installation within two weeks.

What is the process for getting a new phone line installed?

The process for getting a new phone line installed in the UK typically involves contacting a provider, selecting a package that suits your needs, and scheduling an installation appointment. The provider will then send a technician to your home to install the line and any necessary equipment.

What are the requirements for getting a new phone line installed?

To get a new phone line installed, you will need to have an active account with a provider, a socket in your home, and access to the main phone line box outside your home. If you don't have a socket in your home, the process may take longer and be more costly.

Can I install a new phone line myself?

No, installing a new phone line yourself isn't possible.