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How long does it take to install broadband?

By Hannah Ricci
Monday, February 26th 2018

Getting a new broadband connection set up is rarely instantaneous, but there are some useful rules of thumb as to how long it will take to get online.

Set-up times depend on many factors, such as whether you need a new phone line and how popular your chosen deal is. Careful planning will ensure you’re online as soon as possible.

Installation generally takes around two weeks

Most broadband providers give themselves a bit of leeway by predicting that installation of a new service takes around two weeks. This starts from the day you place your order online or over the phone.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll normally receive a welcome pack in the post or by email, which will include an activation date. This could be done remotely, you may be able set it up yourself, or it might need a visit from an engineer.

Today's best broadband deals

Virgin Media offers installation within four days with QuickStart

To avoid any lengthy waiting around for an engineer, if your property is Virgin Media-ready and you already have the sockets and cabling in place, you can request QuickStart when you order your Virgin Media package. You will be sent a straightforward self-installation kit with instructions and can get yourself up and running within four days.

Sign and return your broadband contract quickly to avoid delays

If you do have to wait for an engineer to install your broadband, once you have received your welcome pack with details of your plan, read the terms and conditions thoroughly and sign and return it to the provider promptly to speed things along.

Ensure an adult is at home on the day of installation

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.

Satellite broadband requires professional installation

Installation by an experienced engineer is recommended if you order satellite broadband due to the specialist equipment involved. You may think it could take longer, but satellite broadband providers also specify you should still be up and running within two weeks.

Broadband installation times can vary

Sometimes broadband installation is not straightforward, which can cause delays in getting your new service set up. Issues are often out of your control but it’s useful to understand what can slow down the process in some circumstances.

If you need a new phone line

If your property does not currently have an active BT phone line, a new one will need to be installed to deliver your broadband service. Whichever provider you are using (with the exception of Virgin Media broadband), this work has to be carried out by an Openreach engineer and can take around 15 working days.

Delays are common, because all providers rely on Openreach resources and it’s a case of waiting for an engineer to become available in your area.

If disruptive work is required at your property

If you’re joining Virgin Media broadband and your property is not yet connected to the Virgin network, a cable needs to be installed from the street cabinet to your property. The engineer will talk you through the process when they visit and there is a remote chance it could involve digging up your driveway to lay the cables underground.

If you rent the property or share freehold of the land with neighbours, it is worth checking you have permission for this to happen before you even contact Virgin in the first place.

If you’ve chosen a particularly popular deal

Installation can also be delayed by how busy your chosen provider is. If you’ve taken advantage of a particularly good value deal, such as 12 months’ free broadband for example, many other customers probably have too. If the provider has not prepared for the flurry of new installations with extra staff, delays are likely as it works through the backlog of orders. Busy times of year such as the start of the student academic year can also lead to delays.

If you’ve cancelled before switching providers

If you’re switching from one broadband provider to another, don’t cancel your existing service before your new one is set up. The goal is for your new provider to take over the service, but if you’ve cancelled and there’s no longer an active line to your property, a new one will need to be set up. This can incur charges and delays.

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