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New phone line installation: How long does it take & how much does it cost?

Are you switching internet providers? Moving into a new build home? Need a second phone line? There are many reasons you may need a new phone to be installed.

But what's the cost? How long will it take, and will the engineer need access to your property? We’ll explain all this to you in this guide to getting a new phone installed in your home.

Installing a new phone line: the key points

  • The cost for a new line varies, but can be more than £100.
  • New line charges can apply even on free setup deals.
  • An engineer visit will be required for a new line installation.
  • It can take several weeks for installation to be carried out, but the actual work will usually only take a few hours at most.

How much will a new phone line cost to install?

There's a standard cost of £140 for a new BT Openreach phone line installation, but not every provider charges the customer for this. Depending on the provider and package you choose, you might be able to avoid paying for line installation. If you do pay, the cost of a new phone line will typically be added to your first bill.

Installation costs can also vary depending on whether you’re moving to or from a BT reseller or LLU (local loop unbundling) provider.

LLU providers are allowed to use the Openreach network and install their own exchange equipment. Providers using this include Sky, EE, and TalkTalk.

Other providers resell services. What all this essentially means is that all these providers use the same structure to provide your broadband. So if you’re on any of these transferring to another, you shouldn’t need to install a new line.

Virgin Media operates its network separate from Openreach. The presence of an existing Openreach line won’t make any difference. You’ll still need to install a Virgin line. The same is also true of full fibre services from alternative providers like Hyperoptic and Community Fibre.

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Here's breakdown of the installation costs for some providers:

Summary of installation costs for UK broadband providers - last checked April 2024
Provider New line cost Details
BT £140 £140 for a new line. £36 for reconnecting disconnected lines.
EE £50 £50 for a new line or reconnecting line.
Plusnet - No longer uses phone line.
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 £30 Additional £35 setup for broadband

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 to who you're planning to move.

Phone lines on the BT network can all be checked, regardless of who your intended phone provider is. There’s a central database that's available to providers, which enables 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 phone line network, this should be instantaneous, but for new builds, second lines, and switching from Virgin Media or another network, an engineer visit is required.

For a new line, access to the property is required. A new master socket must also be installed.

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

The delay between choosing an ISP or internet service provider and getting your broadband and home phone activated is typically two to three weeks.  But this can vary depending on the provider.

The actual work on the day usually takes no more than a couple of hours. Your home is connected to the relevant network, a phone socket is installed, and speed and signal integrity tests are carried out. Of course, there could be problems, and it could take longer if any work needs to be done 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. You’ll need to make sure to book this in advance. The engineer will require someone over 18 to be present at your home for the duration of the booking.

If you need a line put in for broadband (either in a rented property or one you’ve yet to move into) this is especially important to remember. Make sure you get permission from any landlords, and if you’ve yet to move in? You’ll have to make sure someone is around for the installation.

For more help with this, you can read our guide: 'how to get broadband in rented accommodation'.

On top of that, Virgin Media also offers a self-install option. But this is provided you already have an undamaged Virgin Media socket.

If you already have an existing line, an engineer shouldn’t be required, it should just need to be switched back on. You may still need to pay an activation fee, but some deals will offer activation for free.

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Frequently asked questions about phone line installations

  • How do I know if I need to install a new phone line?

    If you’re moving into a new-build property, you'll often need to install a phone line. As the first residents in the building, no one will have left one there that you can access.

    When it comes to a property you’ve lived in a while, or if you’re moving into an older house, then a new line probably isn't needed.

    On your chosen broadband provider’s site, they’ll usually have a line-check page. Using this, you can see if your phone has had the necessary lines installed in the past.

    You can also check by plugging in a landline phone and seeing if you get a dial tone. You can then call 150 to see who provided the line before.

  • Do I need a phone line for broadband?

    An active phone line is required for ADSL and some fibre broadband services on the BT Openreach network.

    Providers such as Virgin Media offer broadband deals without a phone, but you still need a physical line. You can also get broadband without phone service using full fibre broadband and those offering a digital broadband service (SoGEA)from the likes of BT and Plusnet, but this still requires a cable to come into your home.

    4G or 5G, satellite, and wireless broadband are 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 get a phone installed in a new build?

    If your home doesn't have a telephone or broadband already, the provider you want to use will arrange everything. They’ll deal with everything from shipping the router to arranging installation with a BT Openreach engineer.

    If the property is under construction, you should discuss it with the home builder. They may have arrangements in place that may mean you can get a good deal on a service or factors which might 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 provider. 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's already a phone or Virgin Media socket, you shouldn’t need an engineer. 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 provider longer than your rental agreement. 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 phone 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 can't switch one without switching the other. Some providers do offer broadband only, letting you choose a different phone service, though these aren’t common. Unless you have a very specific reason to do so, it’s best to get broadband and phone from the same provider.

  • Are there alternatives to installing a phone line?

    Some mobile phone networks, such as EE or Three, offer 4G and 5G broadband connections. You won't need a phone line, just a 4G/5G Wi-Fi router. You could also get broadband via satellite or from a WISP (wireless internet service provider). However, these have their own drawbacks, and fixed-line connections are usually the best option.

Expert Summary

It doesn’t need to take long to install a new phone line on your property. If you’ve used a line checker and found out you need a line installed, it should be fairly simple. Your provider can arrange an engineer’s visit for you. It’ll take a few weeks to sort out with admin, but only a few hours on the day the engineer visits. Make sure someone will be on the property.

If you’re ready for a new broadband deal and have checked for a line, use our postcode checker to find what deals are available. If full fibre is an option, this is how you can find out. It may even turn out that you don’t need a new phone line for a new deal.

If you don’t have or want a phone line, there are also broadband options that don’t require one. Virgin Media and other full fibre providers are who we recommend, but these are only available in limited areas and still require cable.

We also have a dedicated guide to broadband installation if you'd like to learn more about setting up a new broadband service.

Meet the author:


Jamie worked as a NOC engineer with a national telecoms provider for over a decade before deciding he preferred writing for a living. He is passionate about making technical subjects understandable to all. He has written for PC Gamer, Tom's Hardware, Hilton Hotels, DHL, Dyson and others.

Specialist subject: As an ex-engineer, it has to be networks and installation

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