With highly developed communications infrastructure, expats will have no problem taking advantage of the latest technology in order to keep in touch in the United 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, with a few exceptions. In some areas, Virgin has its own line and people in the area can opt to use that instead of the BT line.

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 broadband in their home, so will still need to go through the motions of setting one up.

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 line installed. Sometimes it’s not necessary for the engineer to visit the property and the telephone company can reactivate a landline from their control centre.

Internet 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 communication accounts at once – telephone, broadband and television

ADSL broadband

ADSL is by far the most popular choice of UK broadband. However, this type of broadband uses an existing telephone line so 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

It is important to begin by checking that cable services are available in the local area. This can be done by consulting Virgin. If the area is covered, residents are able to sign up for fibre, which offers faster internet speeds. The majority of cable services are covered by Virgin but there are a few small companies competing for customers.

Satellite television packages in the United Kingdom

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


Expats will need to have a telephone line installed or reactivated before broadband can be set up. Several different subscriptions are offered at various price points.


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.