BT’s green street box trial could lead to “huge step in bringing EV charging kerbside”

We have seen red public phone boxes repurposed as flower stalls or art galleries. Now another ubiquitous, if less iconic, item of obselete BT roadside technology is being given a new life, to encourage the transition to carbon-neutral motoring.

The first green street cabinet - traditionally used to store broadband and phone cabling - is being converted to an electric vehicle (EV) charging unit, as part of a trial.

Eventually, Etc, the digital incubation arm of BT Group, hopes to transform many of the country’s roughly 60,000 street boxes as part of an initiative to help the government meet its sustainability targets.

The lack of roadside chargers is often cited as a major barrier to drivers switching to EVs. The government has said it wants to increase the number of these units from roughly 53,000 today to 300,000 by 2030.

The initial location of the converted cabinet is in East Lothian, Scotland, and Etc says it will be operational within weeks, with others coming on line in the months ahead.

The cabinet is retrofitted with a device that allows renewable energy to be shared to a chargepoint with no need to create a new power connection, says Etc. The box can still be used for copper broadband services, although with the nationwide roll out of full fibre connectivity, more and more cabinets will be redundant for their original use.

Etc managing director Tom Guy describes the move as a “huge step in bringing EV charging kerbside”. He adds: ”Working closely with local councils 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.”