BT Group to Repurpose Wireline Street-side Cabinets for EV Charging


Etc., the startup and digital incubation arm of London-headquartered BT Group, says that it will power up its first electric vehicle charging unit built from a street cabinet that is traditionally used to house wireline broadband and phone cabling. The announcement is the first step in the rollout of technical trials that will explore the potential of upgrading up to 60,000 cabinets to help meet government sustainability targets and decarbonize the U.K. transport system.

Etc. is developing solutions for EV charging infrastructure by repurposing existing street furniture. A series of planned technical pilots will evaluate how this solution could be scaled to address the lack of chargers on U.K. roads. BT Group research shows that nearly 40 percent of vehicle owners would purchase an EV if access to charging were less of an issue. The U.K. government says it wants to increase the number of charge points from 53,000 today to 300,000 by 2030. 

Etc. said the first trial site is located in East Lothian, Scotland, with further pilots to roll out across the U.K. in the coming months. Through the trials, Etc. will assess a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations to bring this EV charge point network online.

The charging solution works by retrofitting the cabinets with a device that enables renewable energy to be shared to a charge point alongside the existing broadband service with no need to create a new power connection.

EV charging can be added to cabinets already in use for copper broadband services, or in those due for retirement, depending on the space and power available to the unit. Once the cabinet is no longer needed for wired broadband as the nationwide fiber rollout progresses, the broadband equipment is recycled, and new EV charge points can be added. This approach allows re-use of existing infrastructure while deploying more charge points at pace.

Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. at BT Group, says “Our new charging solution is a huge step in bringing EV charging curbside and exploring how we can address key barriers customers are currently facing.”

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