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CES 2024: BT Group to turn old street cabinets into EV chargers

Etc. EV  charging point image

Etc. EV charging point image (Credit: BT Group)

Etc., the startup and digital incubation arm at BT Group is to power up its first EV charging unit built from a street cabinet that was traditionally used to store broadband and phone cabling

The company says that this is the first step in the rollout of new technical trials, exploring the potential to upgrade up to 60,0002 cabinets, as fibre is increasingly brought directly to the home, to help meet government sustainability targets and decarbonise the transport system in the UK.  

How does the retrofitted cabinet charging solution work?

The charging solution works by retrofitting the cabinets with a device that enables renewable energy to be shared to a charge point alongside the existing broadband service with no need to create a new power connection. EV charging can be deployed to cabinets that are in-use for current broadband services, or in those due for retirement, depending on the space and power available to the unit. Once the cabinet is no longer required for broadband, as nationwide full-fibre rollout progresses, the broadband equipment is recycled, and additional EV charge points can be added. This allows re-use of existing infrastructure while deploying more charge points at pace.  

The pilots were developed to help solve EV charging infrastructure needs by repurposing existing street furniture. They will explore how this solution could be scaled to address the lack of chargers on UK roads. The first installation location is in East Lothian, Scotland, with further pilots planned across the UK in the coming months. Through the trials, Etc. will scope a range of different technical, commercial and operational considerations with bringing this EV charge point network online, including: 

  • Technical: Cabinet location, power availability, customer accessibility, digital customer experience and engineering considerations; 
  • Civil planning: Location, local council engagement, permissions and physical accessibility  
  • Commercial: Public funding options, private investment, partnership, and wider financial modelling to establish a route to commercial benefit for the Group 
  • Operational: As a dedicated BT Group venture or in partnership with others 

Innovation Honoree 2024 at CES

The initiative is in its early development stages, however, it has already been celebrated at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, after being awarded an Innovation Honoree for 2024 for outstanding design and engineering. 

Tom Guy, CEO, Etc. at BT Group says: “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. Working closely with local councils in Scotland and more widely across the UK, we are at a critical stage of our journey in tackling a very real customer problem that sits at the heart of our wider purpose to connect for good. 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.”


Read more about:

FTTx, FTTH, FTTH in Europe, Sustainability

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