Phone switchboxes could power EV charging, claims UK telecom firm

The U.K. telecom firm BT Group this week announced a pilot program to add EV charging to street cabinets typically used to house broadband and phone cables.

The first such refit has already been completed in Scotland, with more planned in the coming months, according to a BT Group press release (via IEEE Spectrum). The company aims for as many as 600 refits by the end of 2024.

The pilot adds a device to existing street cabinets that can route power to street-side chargers while retaining existing broadband hardware. EV-charging capability can also be added to cabinets due for retirement, BT Group noted.

Porsche Taycan charging

To be considered for EV charging, BT Group requires a cabinet to have a 100-amp power connection and be located within 80 meters (262 feet) of a parking sport designated for EV charging. Even with those requirements, BT Group estimates that up to 60,000 cabinets could be upgradable for charging. And even if half of the cabinet’s 100 amps is used for charging, that might be enough to charge multiple EVs overnight. 

This is yet another potential solution for street-side EV charging, which could make EVs more practical for urban residents living in apartment buildings, who don’t have access to conventional home charging.

Ubitricity electric-car charging cord

Cities around the world have been investigating how to roll out more street-side charging, with light-pole chargers and pop-up charging stations among the possibilities. The latter have also been tested in the U.K., while light-pole chargers have been rolled out to a number of locations, including in Lancaster, California.

Among the most ambitious projects so far include one from Shell and Ubitricity, aiming for 50,000 on-street chargers in the U.K. by 2025, and the city of Seoul, South Korea, which is pushing for more than 200,000 public EV chargers by 2026.

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