EV Charging Stations: Scale Faster With Smart Cellular Connectivity Management

Today’s electric vehicle (EV) charging experience can be frustrating. The first hurdle is finding a working, available charging station. Next comes waiting in or by the vehicle for 30 minutes or so, which can feel like a waste of time. The annoying charging experience is one reason why as many as one in five drivers trade in their EVs for gas-powered vehicles.[1]

Charge point operators (CPOs) that deliver a better experience stand to gain a competitive edge in a market poised for spectacular growth. The 500,000 public EV chargers installed in 2021 brought the worldwide total to nearly 1.8 million.[2] They are not enough. To keep up with demand, Europe will need 9 million public chargers by 2035, a 400% increase over the 340,000 public chargers available in 2022.[3] Investors are listening: analysts estimate cumulative global investments in charging to exceed $360 billion by 2030 and $1 trillion by 2040.[4]

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“EV charging infrastructure is a trillion dollar market opportunity over the next 20 years, but the pace of installations needs to accelerate rapidly.”

BloombergNEF, 2022

Growth and profitability hinge on smart cellular connectivity management

Imagine a great charging experience. It starts with working chargers. Dependable authentication, usage metering, and payment. A mobile app that shows charger location, real-time availability, and even dynamic pricing. SMS alerts on charging status (e.g., charging, 80% charged, 10 minutes remaining, charging complete) while the customer enjoys a coffee next door.

EV charging stations of the future will transform the 30-minute ho-hum charging experience into something drivers actually enjoy.[1] Equipped with cellular Wi-Fi routers, the charging station can provide a Wi-Fi hotspot for customers to work or watch the news from their car. Interactive displays to learn about local attractions—a source of advertising revenues for the station operator. A service to update the vehicle’s software while it charges.

Underpinning all of these customer experiences—today’s and tomorrow’s—is a reliable, secure network. Cellular networks are often more practical than wired networks for charging stations. They avoid the expense of wiring. They reach virtually everywhere, including highway service areas. Connecting a new charger to the cellular network can be as simple as inserting a SIM card. And many locations are served by multiple cellular networks, providing resilience if one network has an issue.

Challenges of cellular connectivity management

The ease of managing cellular network connectivity affects both the customer experience and profitability. Must-haves include:

• Service reliability. Out-of-service chargers or payment systems take a bite out of revenue. They also irritate customers who planned their trips around charging.

• Automated onboarding of new chargers. Individually provisioning large groups of chargers is time-consuming and error-prone, slowing down deployment.

• Automated rate-plan management. Assigning the right rate plans to hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of chargers—and then managing them—is an arduous task. Getting it wrong can lead to data overage charges that wreak havoc on projected profit margins.

• Insights into usage trends. Manually exporting cellular usage data to other enterprise applications is a tedious, time-consuming process and can postpone insights.

• Security. Unlike enterprise servers, EV chargers are out in the open, making it easier for bad actors to steal SIMs. Without a way to immediately detect and deactivate stolen SIMs, CPOs are on the hook for data charges until the theft is discovered, possibly weeks later.

• Single management platform across regions. For CPOs using multiple mobile network operators, integrating their management platforms is costly and cumbersome.

Scale faster, operate smarter, and secure better with Cisco IoT Control Center connectivity management platform. Unlike other platforms that simply connect your EV chargers to the cellular network, Cisco IoT Control Center helps you scale quickly and increase profitability by reducing costs and automating more of your business. Whether you’re just starting out  or already operate thousands (or tens of thousands) of chargers, Cisco IoT Control Center accelerates your IoT journey from deploying your first chargers to operating at scale.

Scale faster

Managing cellular IoT at large scale can be overwhelming. Cisco IoT Control Center makes it as simple to onboard and manage 10,000 chargers as 10.

Accelerate time to market. Quickly and accurately connect, provision, and deploy chargers in bulk. Reduce hours or days of work to just minutes with sophisticated rules-based automation using a simple, intuitive interface.

Simplify expansion. Expanding to other regions served by our global network of roaming partners? With Cisco IoT Control Center, you save the time and costs of integrating multiple CMPs and training your team to use them. Even if some of your charging stations are outside our service area, you likely won’t need to learn another CMP. More than 50 service providers around the world use Cisco IoT Control Center.

Drive innovation. Gain data-driven insights about expansion or targeted advertising with analytics on individual charging stations’ data usage. Cisco IoT Control Center is continually enhanced with emerging technologies like AI/ML-based analytics for threat detection and new 5G technologies for services like entertainment, advertising, and in-car services.

Operate smarter

Deliver better customer experiences and increase profitability with near-real-time visibility, control, and rate-plan optimization based on AI/ML-based analytics.

Increase service reliability. Receive real-time alerts if a charger hasn’t connected for a specified time period, starts sending unusual amounts of data, begins roaming, or otherwise behaves oddly. Quickly identify and resolve problems using sophisticated diagnostics and analysis tools, improving the customer experience and protecting revenue. Quickly rule out or resolve cellular connectivity issues before dispatching a technician.

Deliver great customer experiences. Keep tabs on thousands of charging stations from one interface to make sure they’re operating and sharing their location and status with your mobile app. Confirm that payment systems are working. With Cisco IoT Control Center you can also offer dynamic pricing based on time of day and other variables. Customers who have the flexibility to charge at different times of day or in less popular locations appreciate the cost savings.

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We have so much more insight and control over our units now than we did before. Cisco IoT Control Center has paid for itself, tenfold.

Project Lead, Metering, Regional Utility Company

Avoid data overage charges. Use Cisco IoT Control Center to automatically optimize rate plans using AI/ML-based analytics. Be confident that you’re getting the best pricing based on current data usage. Automate workflows to save time and lower costs. Reduce operational costs with sophisticated process automation. We provide more than 100 APIs you can use to integrate cellular-connectivity data with your other business applications, avoiding the time and resources needed to manually import data. For example, integrate with your support ticketing system to automatically create a ticket whenever a charger goes offline. Integrate with your analytics application to understand usage trends. Seeing when and where usage peaks or dips can help you plan expansion, optimize operations, and measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns.

Secure better

Built by Cisco, a global leader in security, IoT Control Center gives you multilayer, enterprise-grade security and helps you respond quickly to suspicious device behavior.

Prevent unauthorized access. Protect your customer data and backend systems with multifactor authentication and role-based access controls.

Prevent SIMs from being used in another device. With a few clicks you can set a rule to automatically deactivate a SIM inserted into a new device and notify the appropriate people in your organization.

Speed response. Quickly identify potentially compromised chargers with real-time device monitoring and advanced analytics. Cisco IoT Control Center automatically initiates the right actions when devices exhibit unusual data and connectivity behavior.

Whether you’re a CPO, auto company, energy company, department of transportation,or another government entity, Cisco IoT Control Center can help you scale faster, operate smarter, and protect better.

Learn more about Cisco IoT Control Center (2CONTROL) here.

1 Electric Car Owners Switching to Gas Because Charging Hassle, Business Insider, July 28, 2021
2 Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022, BloombergNEF
3 Power Sector Accelerating e-Mobility, EY and eurelectric, 2022
4 Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022, BloombergNEF
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