BT to repurpose ageing cabinets as EV charging points

Image: BT Group

The telecoms giant, through its start-up and digital innovation arm called Etc., will retrofit cabinets that were previously used to provide copper-based broadband and phone services beginning this autumn.

A select few cabinets will be retrofitted to become on-street EV charging points in Northern Ireland before plans are drawn up for a wider roll-out over a two-year period.

Etc. estimates that up to 60,000 of BT Group’s 90,000 cabinets currently installed in the UK could be suitable for conversion into EV charging points. There would be no disruption in telecoms services to customers; retrofits would only be carried out once communities are upgraded to full fibre.

The trials will enable Etc. to assess the practicalities of retrofitting, including power availability, customer accessibility and the need to work in partnership with local councils.

The company will also explore which financial models for on-street EV chargers could be most effective. BT Group is funding the trials but, more broadly, there could be a role for public funding and for investment from other kinds of private companies.

Etc.’s managing director Tom Guy said the trials are being set up to seize a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect for good” as the conversion to full fibre broadband continues, and as the UK prepares for the ban on new petrol and diesel car and van sales in 2030.

While the UK’s EV stock has been growing significantly, concerns remain around charging point numbers as well as their physical distribution. 45,000 public charging points are online at present and the Government has a target to increase this number to 300,000 by 2030.

Motorways and other major roads are a key focus for the Government’s £1.6bn investment plan, while private sector players are increasingly investing in charging points in their own car parks for staff and/or customers.

Regarding on-street charging, this is regarded as a crucial option for business districts without large car parks and for homes without off-street parking. One-third of UK homes do not have access to off-street parking, mainly in major cities and town centres.

Related articles: From taxes to skills, REA outlines steps to fast-track UK EV charging point deployment

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