In this guide
Switching internet providers? Moving into a new build? Need a second phone line? Whatever the reason, a new phone line may be required. While switching between ISPs usually won't require a new line, on some occasions it necessitates an engineer visit.
But what's the cost? How long will it take, and will the engineer need access to your property? All will be explained in this guide to getting a new phone installed in your home. If you'd like to know more about broadband installation, and activation times for key providers - we've also got a guide to the broadband installation process, which we'd also recommend checking out.
How much will a new phone line cost to install?
There is a basic cost of £140 on a new BT Openreach line installation, but it varies with the provider and what work is required. You may be able to avoid paying this depending on the ISP you choose and what packages they have on offer.
The cost of a new phone line will typically be added to your first phone bill.
The price can also vary depending on whether you’re moving to or from a BT reseller or LLU (local loop unbundling) provider.
LLU providers are those which are allowed to use the BT Openreach network and install their own exchange equipment. ISPs using this include Sky, EE and TalkTalk. Other providers resell services, for example Post Office and Plusnet are both BT resellers.
Virgin Media operates its own network separate from Openreach, so the presence of an existing Openreach line has no bearing on the cost of a Virgin installation.
Below is a breakdown of the costs for line installations for some ISPs:
New line cost
|BT||£140||£140 for new line, also applies for reconnecting disconnected lines. BT Basic customers can spread cost over 12 months.|
|EE||£30||£30 for new line or reconnecting line. No charge for switching from an LLU provider.|
|John Lewis||£49.99||Free to start a stopped line, or transfer an active line from another provider.|
|Plusnet||£49.99||Charge applies for new lines or starting a stopped LLU line. Free to restart a stopped BT line. No charge for transferring from LLU or BT provider.|
|Sky||£20||No charge if you already have an active phone line, otherwise £20 fee applies.|
|TalkTalk||£60||Charge applies for new lines and setting up broadband on existing lines.|
|Virgin Media||£40||Additional £20 activation fee also applies.|
What happens when a new line is installed?
Physical installation of a brand-new phone line requires planning. This begins with a line check, an automated procedure performed by the provider you're planning to move to.
Phone lines on the BT network can all be checked regardless of who your intended provider is (except for Virgin Media). A central database is available to providers, enabling them to quickly establish whether the line is active and suitable for voice and data.
Once the suitability of a line is established it can be activated for instant use, or scheduled for physical activation. If you're switching between providers on the BT network this should be instantaneous, but for new builds, second lines, and switching from Virgin Media an engineer visit is required.
For a new line, access to the property is required. A new socket must also be installed.
How long will it take to get a new phone line installed?
The delay between choosing a broadband provider and getting your broadband and phone activated is typically 2-3 weeks. This can vary depending on the provider, however.
The actual work on the day usually takes no more than a couple of hours, during which your home is connected to the relevant network, a phone socket installed, and speed and signal integrity tests carried out. Of course, problems can occur and it could take longer if additional work is required outside the property.
Will an engineer be required?
The presence of an engineer will depend on the result of the line check.
Switching to or from Virgin Media or requiring a line to be activated or newly installed will require a visit which must be booked in advance. The engineer will also require someone (over 18) to be present at your home for the duration of the booking, and possibly for some time after.
Virgin Media does offer a self-install option, provided you already have an undamaged Virgin Media socket.
Frequently Asked Questions about phone line installations
- Do I need a phone line for broadband?
An active phone line is required for all broadband services on the Openreach network. But Virgin Media offers broadband without phone (though you still need a Virgin Media line). 4G, satellite and wireless broadband is available if you don’t want or can’t get a physical connection. For more information see our guide to broadband without a phone line.
- How can I check my telephone line?
Many ISPs offer a line check service. The best way is to visit the website of your chosen ISP and use the tools they offer. You can also check for a dial tone yourself by simply plugging in a landline handset.
- How can I get a phone installed in a new build?
If your home doesn't have telephone or broadband already the ISP you want to use will arrange everything, from shipping the router to arranging installation with a BT Openreach engineer.
If the property is under construction you should discuss with the home builder as they may have arrangements in place which may mean you can get a good deal on a service, or which may limit your choice of provider.
- How do I install a new phone line in a flat or apartment?
If you own the property, a new line can be installed by contacting your preferred ISP. If access is available to the engineer, it should be as straightforward as installing a line to a house.
- I'm renting - do I need to speak to my landlord or letting agent?
Discussing your phone and broadband needs with your landlord or agent is a good idea. In some cases the broadband may be included but often it will be up to you to set this up. So long as there is already a phone or Virgin Media socket you should not need an engineer, but if the provider indicates engineer work is required you should get permission from the landlord or agent as they may need to drill holes.
Try to avoid taking a fixed-term contract ISP longer than your rent agreement, however. If necessary look for a short term deal to avoid extra fees.
- Does getting a second phone line installed work differently?
There is no change in the process, and installing a second phone line with its own number costs the same as getting a new line. However, you can use a different provider.
- Does switching broadband affect my phone?
Most broadband packages are phone and broadband bundles so you cannot switch one without switching the other. Some providers do offer broadband only, letting you choose a different phone service, though these aren’t common.
- Are there alternatives to installing a phone line?
Some ISPs (such as EE or Relish) offer 4G broadband. You won't need a phone line, just a 4G router to distribute the mobile internet signal around your home via Wi-Fi. You could also get broadband via satellite, or from a WISP (Wireless ISP). However these have their own drawbacks and fixed line connections are usually the best option.