Should I self-install my internet or do a professional installation?
The decision to self-install your internet or pay for a professional to do it is tough. Your internet service provider promises self-installation will be a quick and painless experience if you just use their app—but is that too good to be true?
Usually, your internet provider is right: self-installation is the simplest route to take. But that might not be true for you. If you don’t have the right hardware installed at your house (like if you’re getting DSL internet but lacking a working phone jack) or if you’re getting a special type of internet (like superfast fiber or satellite internet) or if you just don’t want to fuss with anything that has wires or buttons, professional installation might be worth the extra cost.
Is professional internet installation worth it?
If you’re used to setting things up for your home and do well following guided instructions, we’d say that a professional internet installation likely isn’t worth it for you. Setting your internet up yourself will save you money and the hassle of being available for a long appointment window.
But whether or not paying for a professional internet installation makes sense for you also depends on what kind of internet service you’re getting and what kind of internet infrastructure is already in place in your home. Here are some common reasons that you might choose a professional installation over a self-installation:
If you can get professional installation for free
Some providers offer free installation, either as a promotion or an incentive. Many providers will offer free installation if you order online instead of over the phone. Higher-tier packages may also come with free installation. You could also score free installation with a limited-time promotion.
Keep an eye out for deals in your area, or ask about any available promotions that might include free installation when you sign up.
If you’re the first person in your residence to get internet from your provider
If you’re getting a service like Google Fiber or Xfinity installed in your home and it has never serviced your home before, the provider will likely want a professional to verify that you have the right infrastructure for the connection to work. A self-installation kit won’t do you much good if you don’t have a Google Fiber jack or you're lacking a cable line to your home.
If your installation is more complex than most
If your installation will require any work in addition to plugging in your router and activating it, you’ll likely have to pay for professional installation. For example, if you’re getting satellite internet from Viasat or HughesNet (Starlink offers a spiffy self-install option), you’ll be required to pay for a professional installation, which is usually $99 or more. Installing the satellite on your roof and calibrating it to receive the signal from space is a bit beyond what a kit and a self-installation app can guide you through.
Another example of a situation that might require a professional installation is if the hookups to your home need any work to make your internet functional. If you’re getting DSL internet but don’t have a phone jack installed in your house, you’ll need a professional to install one. The same can also apply for cable internet—if you don’t have a cable line to your home or a working coaxial outlet, you’ll likely need some professional help getting that in place before you can get your internet connection up and running.
If you’re not confident in your ability to install your internet correctly
If dealing with the technical side of the internet is something you’re not comfortable with, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and sanity by just paying for a professional installation. And you might not even have to pay for it—depending on your provider, you can sometimes get a free professional installation as part of a promotion. Otherwise, they usually cost $50–$100. There will also be some prep work you’ll have to do for your home (moving any furniture, putting pets away, updating computers, and more).
Here are some questions to ask yourself to assess if you’d be comfortable doing an internet self-installation:
- Do you have a smartphone? Most self-installations require you to download an app to guide you through the process. Without a smartphone, it will be much more difficult.
- How comfortable are you with using apps? The instructions in the app will be simple and straightforward, but you’ll still need to navigate which buttons to push and when.
- Have you installed any streaming services or smart home appliances recently? If the answer is “yes,” then you’ll be fine installing your own internet. The process is very similar in concept and will take about the same amount of time.
- Are you physically comfortable with bending and possibly sitting on the floor? Since most outlets are located close to the floor of your home, you’ll likely have to spend about 15 minutes or more bending down and sitting on the floor to adjust cables, push buttons on your router, and more.
If you answered yes to all those questions, we say go for the self-installation. But there is nothing more frustrating than being so close to internet service but stuck on something that doesn’t make sense in the self-installation kit. So if you can see that happening to you, just skip straight to professional installation rather than calling a technician when things get tough.
What to expect from your internet provider’s installation
If you’re still not sure whether a professional installation is the right play for you, here’s some more specific installation information from some of the most popular internet providers available. If your provider isn’t listed here, reach out to their customer service department to get specific answers to your questions.
Xfinity internet installation
- Self-Installation Kit: free or $29.95 for expedited shipping
- 3–5 days for standard shipping
- 1–2 days for expedited shipping (excludes Sunday)
- Self-Installation Plus Kit: $39.99
- An Xfinity technician will bring your self-installation kit to your house and install it for you.
- Xfinity Field Expert: Up to $89.99
- An Xfinity technician will address more complex issues with your connection.
Xfinity calls their self-installation kits “Getting Started Kits,” and you’re only eligible for one if Xfinity is certain your connection is solid and ready to go. Here are more details on why you might not be eligible for an Xfinity Getting Started Kit. If you’re not eligible for a Getting Started Kit, you’ll need a more in-depth professional installation to get your Xfinity internet up and running. Xfinity isn’t totally transparent about how much this will cost you, likely because it depends on the work involved. If this is your situation, be sure to ask the customer representative what to expect in terms of installation costs before you agree to let the technician out to your home.
If you are eligible for a Getting Started Kit, you can still get a professional installation—it will just be a lot simpler. The Xfinity technician will show up at your door with your Getting Started Kit and install it for you. The whole process should take less than an hour. But depending on your appointment window, you might spend more time waiting for the technician to arrive.
Google Fiber internet installation
- Self-installation: free (if eligible)
- Pro installation: included (unless you don’t have Google Fiber equipment already installed)
Google Fiber is by far the simplest and smoothest internet purchasing experience, especially when it comes to identifying whether or not you need a professional installation. Google Fiber will tell you when you’re checking out online whether or not you qualify for self-installation or if you need a professional technician to come to your house to install the necessary equipment. If Google Fiber has been available in your area for a while or if the previous residents of your home had Google Fiber, you’re more likely to already have the Google Fiber Jack installed and not need a professional installation. But if you’re the first person to get Google Fiber at your residence, you’ll likely need the jack.
You’ll also be required to get a professional installation if you opt for the faster of Google’s two internet plans: 2 Gig. Some sources say that Google Fiber can charge you a $300 construction fee if there’s a lot of work on their end to get your home fitted for fiber (1). But if you already have a Google Fiber jack in your home, you don’t need to worry about that. Google will send you a self-installation kit, and you’ll quickly be on your way with some of the best internet service available. Learn more about if you qualify for Google Fiber self-installation or watch a video that walks you through a Google Fiber self-installation.
Spectrum internet installation
- Self-installation kit: $19.99 activation fee
- Pro installation: $49.99 installation fee
Spectrum is similar to Xfinity in that it offers both self-installation and pro installation, but it will push you toward self-installation whenever possible. Spectrum also charges an “activation fee” for the self-installation kit, which feels more like a misnomer than a fee that’s actually doing a service for you. Similar to Xfinity, Spectrum recommends you go with a professional installation if your home hasn’t had Spectrum service within the past 12 months or if you’re installing more than 4 pieces of equipment (this most likely applies if you’re bundling TV and internet). With a Spectrum professional installation, you’ll also have to do a decent amount of prep work before the appointment and you’ll need to set aside 2–4 hours of your day to just wait around for the technician to arrive. Learn more about what to expect with a Spectrum professional installation.
CenturyLink internet installation
- Standard installation (self-install): $15.00
- Professional installation: $99.00
CenturyLink is the opposite of Google Fiber when it comes to cutting-edge customer technology. Installing with CenturyLink is likely to be a clunky process if you’re lacking any of the necessary infrastructure or want to use a modem that you already have. But it could go very smoothly if you already have a working phone jack in your home and if you opt for a CenturyLink modem. If you want to bring your own modem, you’ll have to chat with CenturyLink to get the right credentials to activate it.
If you have a working phone jack in your home, CenturyLink will funnel you into self-installation, which primarily runs through their app. You can track your equipment shipment in the app and then use the app to get it up and running once it arrives. CenturyLink promises that your modem will arrive before the date that your service is scheduled to start, so you won’t have to worry about paying for service you’re not using.
Final take: choose self-installation if you feel confident
Internet self-installation is usually much faster and more efficient than a professional installation. If you qualify for it (meaning you have a home with the right setup and you picked an internet plan that doesn’t need a pro installation), it’s definitely the preferred method in our opinion. Most internet service providers rely on apps to guide you through the whole self-installation process, and the apps break it down into actionable steps that make it feel much less overwhelming than it may seem.
That said, if you’re prone to technological difficulties and want to head off any issues from the start, pay a little extra for a professional installation. Just know that you’ll have to put your dog away, possibly move some furniture, and wait around your house during an appointment window that could be anywhere from 2–4 hours.
Cara Haynes has been writing and editing about internet service and TV for six years. Previous to contributing to Helpful, she worked on HighSpeedInternet.com and SatelliteInternet.com. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your lifespan.
Bri Field has a background in academia, research writing, and brand marketing. She has edited scientific publications, conference papers, digital content, and technical communications. As Assigning Editor, she enjoys ensuring all content is accurate, clear, and helpful. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, out on a hike, or working through her massive TBR list.
Endnotes and sources
- “Google Fiber: Price, Plans, and Review 2022,” Forbes. Accessed October 26, 2022.