Advice from internet installers on how to prepare for your installation

Lisa Iscrupe

Nov 21, 2020 — 8 min read

Want an insider's look into the process of an internet and TV installer? We talked to professionals to see what you really need to know.

Woman self-installing her home internet service

First things first, installing internet and TV can be a tough gig. There’s a seemingly endless list of customers who are either getting internet for the first time or upgrading or switching their services, and each home can come with its own unique hurdles for installers. From new construction where lines need to be run to older homes where upgrades are necessary to improve Wi-Fi conditions, anything goes and it’s all in a day’s work for the average broadband installer. 

So, is there a way to make the whole process easier and quicker for both you and your technician? And what really goes on in an installer’s head when they pull up to your house? We talked to four busy internet and TV installers to see what goes on behind the scenes. Find out all the secrets of installers here. You might be surprised by what they say!

What do you look for when installing service at a new residence?

Before an installer even knocks on your door, they are mentally calculating the process they might need to get your internet service installed in the best way possible. In fact, all of our sources said that looking for exterior and interior cable lines and connections was their first priority when installing service at a customer’s home. 

“Every technician looks for an exterior cable connection point to complete the installation,” said Stephany Smith, part of the TV mounting team at Fantastic Services, a company situated in the U.S., London and Australia.

Echoing this sentiment, Mark Rapley, director of operations of KWIC Internet, an unlimited internet and digital home service provider in Ontario, CA, said other questions the techs often need answered before installing service include:

  • “Are there existing interconnect points for cabling within the residence? 
  • Is the basement finished or unfinished?
  • Are there areas that will need to have a hardwired cable installed, and will the cable need to be run outside the house due to lack of internal path?
  • And perhaps the most important question, ‘Is the homeowner’s ‘ideal’ router/Wi-Fi placement location actually ideal for performance?’”

Why is all this line-checking important? “We need to know whether or not an underline exists and if not, we need to check to see if one needs to be installed. The house’s interior needs to be checked out, as the presence of doors and thick walls could dilute a signal,” said Laura Fuentes, operator of Infinity Dish.

Mike Lott, an internet installer with Goodman Solutions, said he starts scoping out the area before he even reaches a home. “As I am on my way to the home I’m looking for how many hills or obstructions could create signal issues, where the customer’s electricity is coming to the side of the home as I am pulling into the driveway, and if the customer has a standard roof or metal roof. All of these things help me explain to the customer what the installation plan is.” 

What do you wish your customers knew ahead of time?

  • Access and transparency are important. “If you want us to be able to test accurately, we will need access to most rooms in the home. We would need to know what your concerns were with your previous provider if any, so we can specifically address them during our product overview at the end of the install. You cannot make an old/slow device perform better just by increasing internet speed,” said Rapley.
  • Allow enough time for the job to be done right. “Sometimes installation can take several hours; I have had people complain because my techs weren’t finished in half an hour.” It also helps if they “know where they want the router connected, which room, and which cable outlet, to cut down on time,” said Fuentes.
  • Maintain some flexibility in your installation plan to ensure the best signal. You might have a predetermined idea of where your internet equipment is going to be installed or the least obtrusive place to hide a satellite or tower (if you’re dealing with satellite or fixed wireless internet.)

    Lott, who sometimes installs fixed wireless internet in rural areas said, “just as height can increase signal for a cellphone call, the same is true for a fixed wireless antenna. I like to ask if the customer has had a fixed wireless internet service before because, unlike those services not impacted by weather, the outdoor antenna used for fixed wireless is much like a big cellphone on their home and it requires a clear line of sight to the tower in order to work. It’s because of this that the antenna may not be able to be completely hidden from view.” 

What are some common internet issues to check before calling your internet installer?

Before calling your provider and requesting a tech visit, make sure you’ve checked the following items. Troubleshooting before you have a tech out to your home could potentially save you time and money.

Here are Lott’s top five areas to look over if you’re having an internet issue:

  1. Check to make sure everything is plugged in and powered up. 
  2. Make sure no lines outside have been accidentally cut. 
  3. Make sure none of the wires inside have been disturbed or disconnected. 
  4. Make sure all the lights on the modem and power pack are on.
  5. If you are having an issue with a device, see if you may have the same issue on a different device connected to the same service.

What could homeowners do to better prepare for your visit?

Want your visit to go smoothly? Well, so does your installer. Here’s what our industry experts said makes for a convenient and quick installation. 

  • Have an idea of where you want your modem, router or any other equipment. “Think about multiple rooms or locations where you are comfortable with the internet equipment residing. Sometimes we can’t always use the first choice,” said Rapley. And don’t forget, your installer is trying to get you the best possible service, so the location you choose should “preferably be a central location to get the best coverage throughout your home,” said Lott.
  • Make a list of questions for your installer. “Think about questions in advance; the installer wants to spend as much time as is necessary to help you understand your services, but that starts with knowing your questions,” said Rapley.
  • Prep your home, if necessary. “Move furniture out of the way or clean up toys and other items lying on the floor to prevent tripping hazards, and please put your dog in a secure location,” said Fuentes. 
  • A little empathy goes a long way. “If it is a hot day and the technician is outside for a long time, offering a refrigerated water bottle is always appreciated,” said Fuentes. And though definitely not expected or required, “a monetary tip of $5 or $10 is also a great perk. Some installers cannot accept the tip due to company policy, but the gesture will be appreciated even if they can’t.”

What about TV?

Perhaps even more important than knowing where you want your modem and router is knowing where you want your TV, since mounting a TV and installing the coordinating boxes can be more permanent fixtures. Here’s what our TV installer expert said to think about before installation and some handy tips for getting the best view on your new TV. 

When considering TV installation, think about the following factors:

  • Where you will be watching from. “Your TV should be mounted at a place to provide a proper viewing experience, so be sure to estimate the distance between the TV and the point you watch it from. The general guideline for viewing distance for a 42″ TV is at least six feet, but it’s mostly a personal preference,” said Smith. “And make sure there is an electrical socket within range too.”
  • Lighting, reflections and glare. “To get an ideal TV installation, consider the negatives of potential reflection or glare. Plenty of sunlight entering your home is a feel-good factor, but it can be obtrusive to your TV viewing. For ultimate comfort, plan to buy a full-motion bracket or install the TV in a shaded place, so no lighting fixture or overhead lighting can cause unwanted glare,” said Smith.

What’s the most unique situation you’ve ever encountered when installing new service at a residence?

Since the industry experts we talked to are out in the field every day, we thought they might have some interesting stories to tell us … and they didn’t disappoint! From some unusual obstacles to sweet encounters, here are a few of the most unique situations our installers have come across in their travels. 

Cables, cables everywhere

“One residence was so large that traditional Ethernet cabling for things like computers, TVs and Wi-Fi access points would not work. Instead, we installed internal fiber optics, which is not unusual in large houses. However, the amount of fiber was special. Due to automation, lighting, network devices and other connected items, one home had 4,096 individual strands of fiber optic cabling installed,” said Rapley.

An afternoon fit for a queen

“When I first started as a tech, I was assigned to an older woman’s home. She was the quintessential cat lady; I think there were about 10! She had lace doilies everywhere and knick-knacks galore that it almost looked like a museum of miniature figurines. As I was working, she prepared a full tea service, complete with finger sandwiches and cookies.

When she asked me to join her for tea, I was taken aback, and it was probably going to make me late for my next appointment, but she was so sincere, and I thought, maybe she’s lonely. I sat and had tea with her for about 30 minutes before I had to excuse myself. I think of her often and always wonder how she is doing,” said Fuentes.

No service, no problem!

“The most unique situation I have encountered while installing service was while working in Traverse City, MI. There were times that my phone had no cell service, so before I arrived at the home, I used the location, direction and cell tower information to locate the tower and determine the best location for installation of the antenna.

After installing the antenna, if the customer had existing internet service, I would use their existing internet to activate the service. But, if there was no existing internet service available, I would drive down the road to a good cell area, activate the service and then come back to the home and finish the installation,” said Lott. 

Now that you know the ins and outs of installing internet and TV service from a technician’s point of view, you can be more prepared for your next installation encounter. If you’ve been holding off on getting new internet service because you were worried about an installation hassle, hopefully, this helps you get on the path to the best internet service in your area.

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Lisa Iscrupe

Written by:

Lisa Iscrupe

Writer, Broadband & Data Content

Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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