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Smart Street Lamps Trial to Boost UK EV Charging and 5G Cover UPDATE

Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2023 (9:51 am) - Score 3,824

The UK government’s new Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) has committed £1.3 million to help six areas across the country to trial “smart street lamps“, which will be upgraded to house both Electric Vehicle (EV) charging hubs and boost wireless coverage (broadband and mobile), including via 5G or free public WiFi technology.

The successful pilots will all be expected to match the government’s own funding, pushing total investment to over £4 million to help boost local connectivity. The government will provide £1.3 million, while the local authorities will invest a further £2.7 million.

NOTE: The pilots will begin from October 2023 and run until 31st March 2025.

The Six Trial Authorities

Cambridgeshire County Council (£220,000)
Tees Valley Combined Authority (£202,500)
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (£245,700)
Westminster City Council (£165,000)
Oxfordshire County Council (£250,000)
North Ayrshire Council (£242,765)

The pilots themselves can be adapted to carry out a range of functions – from charging EVs to monitoring air quality, and displaying public information to saving energy with street lighting – that will enable councils and combined authorities to unlock new opportunities and improve public services.

By trialling different uses across these areas, the aim is to show how modern wireless technology can become an integral part of UK infrastructure, connecting public services and businesses in new ways to realise the full benefits of 5G and other advanced connectivity methods.

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said:

“The way we stay in touch, access information and do business is underpinned by digital connectivity – and a world-class wireless infrastructure will be the foundation for the jobs, skills, and services of the future.

We want to ensure that towns and cities across the UK are right at the forefront of this connectivity revolution, ready to seize the opportunities it will bring for local communities, which is exactly what these pilots are about.

They will help demonstrate how advanced wireless technology can enable areas to innovate and deliver better public services, from rolling out electric vehicle chargers to boosting business growth and helping keep our streets safe.”

The idea of harnessing lamp posts to boost mobile network coverage or charge EVs is by no means a new concept, and both have already been tried before, albeit usually only by limited commercial projects (e.g. Ubitricity’s EV chargers). But the new trials could see such solutions being adopted more widely and will also help to test the application of the British Standards Institute Publicly Available Standard 191 (PAS 191) for designing and acquiring new smart infrastructure by local authorities.

The SIPP programme is a separate, but complimentary initiative to the 5G Innovation Regions that was announced in April, forming part of DSIT’s wider programme to drive 5G adoption across the UK and is also being supported by the Department for Transport (DfT).

UPDATE 12:05pm

Boldyn Networks has revealed that they’re the ones partnering with Kingston Council to roll out a smart infrastructure pilot across the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The project will deploy smart columns to boost mobile connectivity (this is often made accessible to all mobile operators via wholesale).

Each column will host small cells to enhance digital connectivity and improve CCTV camera quality. The cameras will not be used for traffic purposes, but will enhance public safety through their deterrence of criminal and anti-social behaviour.

Kingston Council will deploy approximately 20 CCTV sites with the new smart columns, and the design also allows the potential to add Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to better manage borough services, including the monitoring of road usage, footfall and air quality.

As part of the project, Boldyn Networks will install a 10.4km fibre ring across the borough that will provide the newly installed smart columns with high-speed connectivity.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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19 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jimmy says:

    I really hope they don’t waste any money putting wifi on lamp posts.

  2. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    So our councils (several of which have gone bust recently) which can’t afford to (fill in your pet beef) now have the opportunity to waste taxpayers money on expensive lamp posts and associated infrastructure instead of the normal, cheaper ones, providing services which are nothing to do with them. And they will because this is new, shiny, shiny not the boring old stuff so there’ll be new teams, meetings, jobs, budgets. ☹️

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Ultimately, such work would be taken on by private sector partners, while the local authorities could reap any benefits in revenue.

    2. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      But there is an up side? They won’t be turning them off at night to save power? Or will they?

  3. Avatar photo Bob says:

    The supply to lamppost is generally unsuitable for charging EV’s. It will take several hours to charge an EV

    The other problem is the local grid from the substation to street lights and homes will not take the load. Charging a few EV’s will be fine if you do not mind it taking several hours but street loads of them no

    1. Avatar photo AndyK says:

      What are you talking about!? EVs are SUPPOSED to charge slowly. They are SUPPOSED to be charging when they are parked – ultrafast charging is supposed to be a rare thing only needed on long journeys. The whole point and benefit of an EV is that it’s charging all the time it’s parked, so you never have to worry about stopping to charge….

    2. Avatar photo Josh says:

      Perhaps they would increase the supply when replacing them.

      I guess the grid owners will be looking to upgrade in the mid-long term anyway as things go further towards dependency on electricity both for usage and generation I.e. solar on properties etc.

    3. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      AndyK, problem is that slow charging for an EV is at 3kW. A standard street lampost and the electricity supply to the post is designed around a luminaire with a rating of 20W for a residential street LED, 30-45W for an old style orange sodium lamp. This idea “wow, we’ve got all these street lights, we could plug an EV into each one” idea has been conjured up by people who can’t do maths, who don’t expect to be paying for it, have no idea what’s involved in designing and operating highways lighting, but are fixated on their net zero nirvana.

      Yes, you certain could have EV charging from street lamp standards, there’s a good few examples around. But you need to rebuild the electricity distribution system to the lamp standard, replace the pole with a spanky new one with built in metered charging, sort out the information flow to support both charging, smart charging, and data flow back for billing. And another thought for street lamp charger fans. On those roads where people don’t have private driveways, how many cars do you see parked overnight on a per lamp post basis (15-30, in my experience). What does that then mean for watts per post, and total system demand? How will you connect those vehicles without the cabling being a hazard? And all that cable is going to be a gift to cable thieves.

      Rebuilding the UK’s highways lighting to support the current generation of painfully slow charging car batteries is idiocy. Far better to allow time for technology to resolve the problem of charging. This illustrates the crux of the UK’s energy and carbon issues – politicians (who can’t do maths and can’t recognise, diagnose and resolve even the simplest of problems) are rushing pell mell to commit the country to decarbonisation on a ludicrous time scale, that will result in higher costs of change, “picking winners” that turn out to be inferior solutions (eg solar power in the UK), throwing vast amounts of subsidy at the problem and generally making things worse.

    4. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

      @Andrew G. Spot on.

    5. Avatar photo Gary says:

      The power rating of the lamp has no bearing on the DNO connection to the cut out fuse in the pillar so you are both just using guess work. Street lights are usually supplied via 16mm2 (Copper) or 25mm2 (Aluminium) cable fed into a 25A cutout fuse.

      The cable can easily support far more than the cut out fuse, however there was never a need to place a bigger fuse in. All new street lights installed within recent years were required to have the capability to support 3-5kw EV charging from the get-go. Any upgrades to lights were also required bring the distribution wiring up to spec.

  4. Avatar photo Wayne says:

    BT group have been trialing this at Adastral park for a few years now!

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      For a few years? so not doing very well then.

  5. Avatar photo Anthony says:

    A 5G booster on every streetcorner incorporated with streetlamps will mean no more blackspots anywhere . I hope they roll this out ASAP.

  6. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    CCTV, wow, more Big brother, i wonder if the cameras are more to protect the 5G than people.

    you won’t be able to go anywhere do anything, buy anything in this country without being filmed and tracked, I can understand why the government wants us all to use cards instead of cash.
    China the second.

    Hopefully things will happen to these cameras like they are happening to the cameras in the ULEZ.

    1. Avatar photo Anthony says:

      The thing that disturbs me about CCTV is if someone steals your car, keys it, or puts a brick through a window. The police don’t even bother to check it. They just give you a crime incident number and do not one thing else to detect and catch the criminals. If that is the case you think, what the hell is this CCTV there for?

    2. Avatar photo Yatta! says:


      Untrue, I had a police officer visit this week requesting a couple overnight hours of my doorbell CCTV footage, as they were investigating ‘an incident’. I didn’t ask for details, but gladly obliged.

      They do make an effort with their limited resources, the problem is government’s defunding and undermining of the police and all of our other cherished public services.

    3. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @Anthony, very true, we have CCTV here and most of them are not even monitored as there is no money to do it.
      they say it is for our safety. Ok, I can see a pig flying past my window

    4. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @Yatta!, Trust coppers as much as i trust the goverment and what is happening in the Met proves the point and I doubt our police force is any better. police are lazy these days, never see them on the street, they are sat in the cars stuffing their face, looking for easy targets.

      Our city centre uses the Wi-Fi of phones to count the amount of people in the city centre, I wonder how easy it would be to use that info plus CCTV and track people.

      at least none of these lamposts will come to my street.

    5. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:


      I work at a Council run CCTV control room. I am also on the Police Radio. You couldn’t be farther from the truth. I burn Evidence every day and go to court 3-4 times a month at the moment. Maybe my council/Police force have got it together. And if they have, being the smallest and least funded in the UK then others can too surely?

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