Black EV charging using an on-street charge point

BT considers repurposing street cabinet estate to EV charge points


BT Group has announced that its start-up and Digital incubation team, Etc., will begin conducting technical and commercial pilots to convert or upgrade its street cabinets for electric vehicle charging units, over the next two years.

The street cabinets are currently used for providing copper-based broadband and phone services, and will be decommissioned as the nationwide upgrade to full fibre progresses.

Most electric vehicle (EV) drivers conduct the majority of their charging when the car is parked up overnight. However, this can present an issue for those without off-street parking, on-street charging solutions such as bollard and lamp post style charge points solve this issue and remove the need for additional street furniture.

The first phase of the EV charging pilots, open to Openreach and BT Group colleagues, is planned to kick off in Northern Ireland in the Autumn of 2023, and will be expanded to the public with more pilot locations added across the UK later in the year.

Etc.’s early projections suggest that, over time, as many as 60,000 of the Group’s 90,000 cabinets may be suitable for upgrades to EV charging points. BT Group already purchases 100% renewable electricity and will continue this through the EV charging pilots.

“With the ban on sales of internal combustion engine vehicles coming in 2030, and with only around 45,000 public charge points today, the UK needs a massive upgrade to meet the needs of the EV revolution,” says Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. at BT Group.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect for good in a whole new way by innovating around our cabinet infrastructure.

“The pilots are critical for the team to work through the assessment and establish effective technical, commercial and operational routes to market over the next two years.”

The UK Government has announced ambitions to grow the number of UK charge points from around 45,000 today to 300,000 by 2030, committing £1.6 billion in public funding to the effort.

“The need for more EV charging represents an exciting business opportunity, so it is great to see BT Group announcing plans that could play a key role in growing the number of charge points and helping enable more people to make the switch to an electric car,” said Ben Nelmes, CEO, New Automotive.