Keeping in Touch in the United Kingdom

Green telephone
The country has highly developed communications infrastructure, and expats will have no problem taking advantage of the latest technology in order to keep in touch in the Unitied Kingdom – with those back home as well as to cultivate new relationships.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty comes in researching the most effective and economical package for an individual's communication needs, and then making time to have the technology installed amid what is an often erratic expat schedule.

Telephone lines in the United Kingdom

BT is the national company for telephone lines and runs the telephone network. Some people may not want a landline especially if they are planning on only using a mobile phone. However, a person will have to have a landline if they would like ADSL Broadband in their home, so will still need to go through the motions of setting up a landline.

An engineer will have to come out to the property to install the landline if it is a new build or reactivate the landline if there is already a BT line installed. BT will give customers a time slot of between 8am to 5pm on the day of the installation. Someone will need to be waiting at the property during this period. Sometimes it’s not necessary for the engineer to visit the property and BT can reactivate a landline from their control centre. There are other providers that have good telephone packages available depending on an expat's requirements, but one will still have to go through BT in the first instance because they run the network.

Cheap international phone calls from the United Kingdom

There are many providers supplying cheap phone calls abroad to suit various requirements. For example, expats can set up a 1899 account which can be used from A BT phone line.

Broadband in the United Kingdom

Setting up broadband can be a slow and frustrating business, and it is often necessary to deal with several departments of the relevant broadband provider to organise set-up. If expats need immediate access to the internet during the set-up process they can reduce the inconvenience by:
  • Purchasing a mobile broadband dongle on a pay-as-you-go programme, which can be bought from most mobile phone shops
  • Setting up all of communication accounts at once - telephone, Broadband and television

ADSL broadband

ADSL broadband is by far the most popular choice of UK broadband. However, this type of broadband uses an existing telephone line. Therefore, if a home does not have an active telephone line set up, expats will need to have this sorted before arranging for broadband installation

Cable broadband (Virgin Media)

It is important to begin by checking that cable services are available in the local area. This can be done by phoning Virgin Media. 

Cable broadband uses a special cable connection which needs to be installed into the customer's home. If the property is not already connected to cable the engineer usually drills a small hole through a window frame so the cables can enter the property. The engineer will then attach a small white box to the wall by the window so that the cables can run from it.

It is important to note that expats renting property in the UK should get written permission from the landlord before installation takes place. This is because damage to the window frame will be noted when inventory checks are carried out at the end of the contract and this could result in the landlord deducting money from the security deposit.  

Satellite Television packages in the United Kingdom

Cable (Virgin Media)

The advantage of having a Virgin Media package is that the Virgin engineer will install the telephone line, broadband and television package all in one day. They are able to do this as Virgin has its own phone lines, so does not have to use BT phone lines. It is also possible to get Sky Movie and Sky Sports channels with a Virgin Media package. Virgin Media will give customers a time slot of between 8am and 5pm on the day of the installation. Someone will need to be waiting in the property during this period. It is important that the television is in full working order so that the Virgin engineer can make sure that the package is working correctly and show customers things such as how the controls work. Virgin offers a wide range of packages to suit different requirements.


Expats will need to have a telephone line installed or reactivated before the broadband can be set up. BT also supplies BT Vision television packages which work through the television aerial.


Sky supplies the most popular television packages in the UK. It also supplies broadband and telephone line packages. Sky is not able to install a telephone line, broadband and television package in one day, as Sky uses BT telephone lines. So, first customers need to have a BT telephone line installed or reactivated before the television package and broadband can be installed. Therefore, an expat would need to set up an installation date for the BT engineer to install a phone line, followed by another installation date for the Sky engineer to install the Sky TV package.

Sky offers a wide range of packages to suit different requirements.

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