Street smarts: BT’s plan to turn broadband cabinets into EV chargers | CAR Magazine

Street smarts: BT’s plan to turn broadband cabinets into EV chargers

Published: 08 January 2024 Updated: 08 January 2024

Broadband cabinets into EV chargers?
► BT says it could open up EV charging to more households
► First cabinet set to go live by the end of the month

UK telecoms giant BT Group has revealed plans to upgrade its ubiquitous street cabinets – those green boxes on the side of the road that provide broadband by copper wire – into electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

The scheme, which could see up to 60,000 of BT’s 90,000 cabinets transformed, has been devised to open up EV adoption to a wider number of households, including the 38% that would already have an EV if charging weren’t an issue.

Located in East Lothian, Scotland, the first green cabinet upgrade will go live by the end of this month, though BT plans to roll out 600 live cabinet charging points over the next 18 months as part of the scheme’s technical trial.

Tom Guy, CEO of the project’s managing firm Etc, highlighted the importance of the roll-out and the potential it has to invite more people to EV motoring.

EV charging next to broadband cabinet

‘Our new charging solution is a huge step in bringing EV charging kerbside and exploring how we can address key barriers customers are currently facing,’ he said. ‘This is a key step in our mission to build products and services right now that work for the future, with positive transformation at the heart.’ 

How will they work?

BT wants to retrofit its green cabinets with technology that will direct renewable energy to a charging point alongside the existing broadband service.

Without the need for a new power connection, the green boxes will then be able to charge EVs on the roadside, even if their copper broadband services are still in use.

BT’s cabinets are already coming to the end of their working life as the company makes way for a full switch to fibre optic broadband.

Though EV charging is possible while a cabinet is still operational, decommissioned cabinets can accommodate more charging points and so the new initiative is expected to develop as the copper wire broadband phase out continues.

Who can use the first EV charging cabinets?

As more go live in the future, the ability to charge your EV via broadband cabinet will become available to everyone. For now, though, access is limited to Openreach and BT Group colleagues and will remain so until more testing is complete.

However, BT Group has emphasised that no part of the trials or the scheme’s wider roll-out will cause any ‘change or disruption to the telecommunications services supported from the cabinets.’

By Seth Walton

Staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers, specialising in ownership and car advice