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Pilot program set to convert telecoms cabinets into EV charging points

BT Group’s start-up and digital incubation team Etc. is to conduct a two-year technical and commercial pilot program to convert or upgrade its street cabinets for electric vehicle charging units.


The cabinets are currently used to provide copper-based broadband and phone services and will be decommissioned as the nationwide upgrade to full fibre proceeds.

Over the next two years, the team will consider several factors for the roll-out of street cabinet charging points, including local council engagement; funding options; plus cabinet location, power availability, and customer accessibility.

The first phase of the EV charging pilots starts in Northern Ireland this Autumn, with plans to expand pilot locations across Britain later in the year.

“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,” said 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.”

Etc. believes that as many as 60,000 of the Group’s 90,000 cabinets may be suitable for upgrades to EV charging points; adding that the trials and potential scaling of the new EV charge network would not impact telecommunications services supported by the cabinets.

The UK government plans to grow the number of UK charge points to 300,000 by 2030, committing £1.6bn in public funding to the effort.

Helen Clarkson, CEO at Climate Group, said: “We're seeing more and more ambitious commitments from corporates to grow their EV fleets in the coming years. Programmes like BT Group’s are an incentive for other businesses and drivers to go electric. But we need the UK government to play its part - wider availability of charge points right across the country, not just in London, will help build confidence that switching to an EV is the right option.”