BT plans to repurpose old broadband boxes as EV chargers.

BT plans to repurpose old broadband boxes as EV chargers.

BT’s Innovation Arm Converts Street Cabinets Into EV Charging Points

BT, the British telecoms giant, is making strides in the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure by converting its street cabinets into charging points. The company’s innovation arm, called Etc., plans to repurpose the iconic green cabinets found across the UK, which are currently used for copper-based broadband and phone services. As BT transitions to full fibre networks, these cabinets will be decommissioned, presenting an opportunity for a large-scale conversion to EV charging points.

With an estimated 60,000 out of 90,000 cabinets suitable for retrofit, Etc. will conduct a series of technical and commercial pilots over the next two years to assess the feasibility of this conversion. The first pilot, set to launch in Northern Ireland this autumn, will initially provide charging ports to BT Group colleagues. Subsequently, the trial will be expanded to the public, with additional pilot locations planned across the UK later in the year. This initiative is a response to the upcoming ban on sales of internal combustion engine vehicles in 2030, which necessitates a massive upgrade in EV charging infrastructure.

The UK government has set an ambitious goal of increasing the number of EV charge points from approximately 45,000 today to 300,000 by 2030. To support this objective, the government has allocated £1.6 billion. However, recent analysis suggests that the government is currently “10 years behind” its charging infrastructure commitments, risking the smooth transition to greener transport.

Tom Guy, the managing director of Etc. at BT Group, acknowledges the urgency in upgrading the charging infrastructure to meet the demands of the EV revolution. With only around 45,000 public charge points currently available, there is a need for significant expansion. Programs like BT’s initiative encourage other businesses and drivers to adopt electric vehicles. However, for widespread EV adoption, Helen Clarkson, CEO of London-based non-profit Climate Group, emphasizes the importance of the UK government’s involvement in making charge points widely available across the country, not just in London. This would build confidence among consumers in switching to EVs.

Other businesses across Europe have begun capitalizing on the government’s slow response to charging infrastructure. In Ireland, startups are developing innovative solutions to bridge the gap between the growth of EV sales and the rollout of charge points. From the “Airbnb of home chargers” to hub-style sites along arterial routes, these startups are finding ways to make charging more accessible and convenient for EV owners.

Supporting these efforts, the EU recently passed regulations requiring fast recharging stations to be installed every 60 km along the main transport corridors by 2025. This move further facilitates EV adoption and addresses the infrastructure gap in the region.

As BT embarks on its mission to contribute to the government’s EV charging targets, the company acknowledges the importance of collaborating with local councils and authorities to ensure a smooth installation of the charging infrastructure. Whether BT will make a significant impact on the charging infrastructure remains to be seen, but their involvement signals a positive step in addressing the charging needs of the growing EV market. By repurposing existing infrastructure, BT demonstrates a creative approach to solving the charging infrastructure problem and paves the way for more businesses to contribute to the EV revolution.