Virgin Media will use its broadband cabinets to charge electric vehicles

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Virgin Media wants to use its broadband cabinets to solve one of the biggest hurdles preventing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

Electric cars, especially with their ever-growing range of connected features, have a range problem. Research has shown that the biggest reason drivers are still opting for combustion vehicles is the lack of charging infrastructure for EVs causing “range anxiety”.

While an increasing number of places are installing charging infrastructure, especially in service stations along main routes, it’s a slow and costly endeavour.

Virgin Media currently has around 40,000 street cabinets up-and-down the UK which are used for the company’s cable broadband network. Over the next 18 months, Virgin Media plans to install charging stations at 1,200 of these cabinets.

Retrofitting existing infrastructure is faster and more cost-effective than building a nationwide charging network from scratch. The wider rollout is being planned following a successful trial in Southwark, London with startup Connected Kerb.

Jason Simpson, Vice President Global Energy and Utilities for Liberty Global, comments,

“Leveraging street cabinets allows Liberty Global to look beyond traditional uses of telecom infrastructure and make a positive impact on the environment and in communities throughout the UK.

By bringing more electric vehicle chargers and associated connectivity to Britain’s streets, we are making a significant contribution to Innovate UK’s ambition to encourage more people to buy electric cars.

We’re excited to be working with a wide array of partners who each bring their own areas of expertise to this exciting and innovative project.”

The working title of the project is called Virgin Media Park & Charge. Further details, including the conglomerate’s next target area, are yet to be announced.

We can only speculate on pricing but users of the trial in Southwark were charged £3.50/hour for a maximum of four hours. When a wider rollout begins, it’s probably safe to assume some form of discount will be available for Virgin Media’s broadband and TV customers.

While electric vehicle drivers on the motorway are now fairly well-catered for by charging infrastructure along most routes, they struggle to find somewhere to power up within inner cities and suburban areas.

Virgin Media serves approximately 15.2 million homes and businesses predominantly in areas currently underserved by charging infrastructure, so it’s in a great position to step in and help end the range anxiety preventing EV adoption.