A new report from IoT research analysts Beecham, sponsored by UK-based mobile virtual network operator Caburn Telecom, warns that in the race to deliver the EV charging network needed to support the rapid expected transition to electric vehicles, the importance of connectivity must not be overlooked.

As Caburn explains, IoT systems acquire data from devices, process it for use in applications, and generate real-time information that is communicated to third parties.

In EV charging, the public charge points are the devices. They process operational status, metering and user data and communicate the information so that the charge point operators (CPOs) can monitor their maintenance needs, users can be billed, and the utility and communications companies can be paid.

Uptime is critical, but the track record to date is poor. And that, says Caburn, is largely because the complexity of the connectivity part of any IoT solution is too often underestimated.

The report points to anecdotal negative media coverage and research data that indicates outages have already become a serious issue for EV charge points.

It says a UK 2019 survey conducted by Zap-Map found that almost 25% of public charge points were out of service. Of those, 7.5% were flagged with a problem, but 16% were not communicating their status.

This, say Caburn, suggests the charge point operators were either unaware of the status of the charge points or unable to rectify them remotely.

The key point, it says, is it is hugely frustrating for users – already subject to range anxiety – to find that available charging points are not working. And unless addressed this will become a major obstacle to the wide-spread adoption of EVs. That in turn could prove a significant blocker to the UK Government’s ambitious transport decarbonisation agenda.

A priority for CPOs, believes Caburn, is to ensure they offer high uptime for their charging points and provide accurate real time information on their status. And CPOs that fail to provide this, it warns, risk reputational damage and loss of market share that will become increasingly severe over time.

The solution, says Caburn, is CPOs should not by default simply turn to their regular enterprise mobility partner. Instead they should be looking to partner with a mobile virtual network operator that offers non-steered access to multiple networks, and a management platform that allows the CPO to monitor the charge-points in real-time and to remotely correct faults.

Multi-network roaming, it says, maximises geographical coverage and connection resilience. Non-steered access ensures that no network is prioritised and in the event of a connectivity issue the charge points can change between them automatically and with minimal delay.

And to meet driver expectations for trouble-free journeys, concludes Caburn, CPOs need to make a detailed evaluation of their requirements when selecting their communications partners. Connectivity is a crucial resource and must be planned at an early stage of any IoT project to ensure its long-term success.