During the COVID-19 pandemic and third national lockdown, switching broadband providers isn’t as simple as it usually is. Openreach engineers will only be carrying out work inside properties for vulnerable customers or urgent installations, and its full fibre rollout has been delayed until at least the 1st March 2021.
However, in the majority of cases, switching doesn't require much equipment to be installed. Openreach's superfast broadband network covers most UK providers, so unless you're switching to another network, you'll likely be able to change your provider even without a visit. Openreach has also promised to do as much of the work outside your home as possible, and then talk you through any tasks you need to do inside the house yourself.
But for those who are switching networks and require some form of in-home installation, there may be the simple option to install your broadband router yourself, meaning you could get started on your new broadband plan without the need for an engineer to enter your home.
Read our full guide on how the coronavirus may affect your broadband installation for more information.
Can I install my broadband myself?
You will not be able to install your broadband yourself if you need a new phone line or cable installed in your home. This will usually be the case when installing a property's first-ever broadband connection, upgrading to an ultrafast broadband package or switching to or from Virgin Media’s cable broadband.
These upgrades require new cables and access points to be installed in your home, so you would need to arrange an engineer visit from either Virgin Media or Openreach.
For most switches the majority of the work is done outside of your property, either on the street at the cabinet, or leading up to your property from the cabinet.
When upgrading from ADSL to superfast broadband, work is done at this level, so an engineer can complete the job without you even needing to be home.
How to self-install your broadband
If your switch is between providers on the same network, such as Openreach's superfast broadband network, the process is fairly straightforward:
- You will receive your new broadband router in the post prior to the activation date.
- One the day of activation, connect your new router to the master phone socket. A master socket is the main socket for the phone line in your home, not an extension socket. You may need to use the provided micro-filters if necessary.
- Power up your router and wait for an indication that it’s online.
- Connect your devices to the new hub.
Openreach's full fibre network is a different infrastructure that requires more setup than this, so if you've switched to one of these connections you'll have to wait for these installations to start rolling out again (currently from 1st March).
Which providers allow self-installation?
Most of the major broadband providers offer some form of self-installation on applicable packages. And while the switching process is fairly similar, there are some notable differences between providers.
If you need a new line installed, this can cost about £140. However, if you already have a BT line at your property you can set up your router yourself and get connected in just a couple of days without needing to pay any additional charges.
When connecting your BT Smart Hub, plug the broadband cable with grey connectors into your Hub and the other end into your master phone socket. Depending on your socket type, you might need to use a filter.
Virgin Media runs on its own cable network, therefore it’s common when switching from another provider that you will need a new cable line installed in your home.
However, if your property has been connected to Virgin Media’s cable network at some point in the past three years, you could use the QuickStart self-install pack which could have you up and running in just a few days.
QuickStart kits can be delivered to your home for £5 or collected from your nearest Collect+ store free of charge.
Note: During the coronavirus pandemic, Virgin Media are not charging for home delivery of its QuickStart kits.
Included in the kit is everything you need to get setup as well as step-by-step instructions to help.
Vodafone will send the broadband router to your home in advance of your activation date. If you don’t need a new phone line, simply follow the setup guide that comes with your router as part of your setup kit.
Connect your new Vodafone router to the master phone socket before 8am on the day of activation and leave it switched on until you have confirmed internet connectivity. This should occur by midnight on the same day at the latest. During this process, Vodafone will keep you updated by phone, text or email and will communicate with you if anything changes with your activation date.
When you first install your NOW Hub, it will download software which may make your internet connection slow or intermittent initially. Allow 20 minutes for this to be completed before using the internet as normal.
Sky currently does not have any options to self-install any of its pay-TV packages. If you want to be able to access Sky TV without needing an engineer visit, then check out its NOW TV streaming service, which you should be able to use with your current broadband package.